The appellation is located in the forerunners of the Pyrenees in the southwest of the southwest region of France. It is partly congruent with the Béarn appellation. Probably there was already viticulture here 2,000 years ago at the turn of the century, as Roman mosaics from this period suggest. As early as the 14th century, by a decision of the Parliament of Navarre, the vineyards of this area were defined as special vineyard sites (crus). Among other things, it was prohibited at that time to import foreign wines. This can be seen as one of the first attempts at classification or protected designation of origin. Incidentally, Jurançon was one of the first French areas to be classified as AOC at the end of the 1930s. It is said that the King of Navarre, Anton de Bourbon (1518-1562), wet his lips with it at the baptism of his son and later king and great wine lover Henry IV (1553-1610).
The fact is that wine from Jurancon has established itself as the standard wine for festive ceremonies of the French ruling house. At that time it was produced in red and white. At the end of the 19th century, phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards, but after that the old grape varieties were replanted. The Jurançon was exported in large quantities to Holland and as far away as America. The famous French writer Sidonie-Gabriele Colette (1873-1954), author of "Chéri" and "Gigi", wrote about him: "As a young girl I made the acquaintance of a prince - fiery, imperious and insidious like all great seducers: Jurançon". This naturally contributed to the fame of the wine.
The vineyards cover around 1,000 hectares on south-facing slopes at an altitude of 300 to 600 metres above sea level with a relatively cool climate. The vines are trained up to two metres high in the Espalier training system, which protects them from ground frost. The long, sunny autumns allow for a very late harvest until well into December. Similar to the sweet Sauternes wines, the traditional Jurançon version is a concentrated, sweet white wine made from overripe or dried grapes (see also under Passerillé). The Petit Manseng grape variety, with its small berries and thick skins, is particularly suitable for this purpose. It produces extremely low yields (often only 15 hl/ha, 40 hl/ha are permitted). Only under these conditions can a high-quality sweet Jurançon be produced. In small proportions Courbu Blanc, Camaralet de Lasseube, Gros Manseng, Lauzet and Petit Courbu are also included.
The heavy wine also has a beautiful, balanced acidity and is very long-lasting. Jurançon sec was classified as a separate appellation in 1975. This is a dry variant from the Gros Manseng and Courbu Blanc varieties. This wine can also be produced in years with poorer weather conditions and accounts for about three quarters of the production. Both wines have a characteristic greenish hue that deepens with aging. Well known producers are Domaine du Bellegarde, Clos Bellevue, Domaine Bordenave, Domaine de Cabarrouy, Domaine de Capdevielle, Domaine Castéra, Domaine Cauhapé, Domaine Gaillot, Clos Guirouilh, Château Jolys, Cru Lamouroux, Clos Lapeyre, Domaine Larredya, Domaine Nigri and Clos Uroulat.