by Paige Donner
It seems that everyone these days can’t get enough of the wines from the Southwest of France, namely the Bergerac region. It’s likely just a coincidence that Wine Enthusiast named it their region of the year for 2018, since it has definitely been on its own upswing for quite awhile now.
When I communicate with fellow wine appreciators from abroad visiting France, I emphasize that for quality:price ratio you can’t beat the wines from Bergerac & Duras. Probably its most famous appellation (outside of France, at least) is Monbazillac, which produces the sweet wines full of botyritis-induced honey-stewed apricot notes.
Of course, nestled in the Périgord region famous for its gastronomic food culture, you would expect the wines to match up to that. Still, for the last several centuries the region has been a bit overshadowed, at least on the export market, by its neighbor just to the northwest, which you may have heard of, called Bordeaux. However, the regions share such close proximity that the far eastern edges of Bordeaux’s appellations actually touch up against Bergerac.
The average, every day wine enthusiast in either France or abroad is not the only type of wine drinker who has become infatuated with this promising region that tends to overdeliver. The English have long staked their claim here as a retirement haven and now even landed wealth from elsewhere has been moving in and renovating chateaus and replanting vineyards as organic.
Case in point:
This fully refurbished and renovated chateau produces a wide range but one that is fairly standard for the region: red, white, rosé and sweet. Their wines carry the appellation (AOC) designations of Bergerac, Côte de Bergerac and Saussignac. The vineyards of the chateau literally touch right up against the frontier to the Gironde.
This idyllic wine producing chateau was bought in 2012 by the Swiss family (Scheufele) who owns Chopard. They just simply fell in love with the region. Since purchasing the historic estate, they became passionate about converting their 27.5 hectares into not just organic but bio-dynamic vineyards. Their efforts are bearing fruit. The winemaker is also advised by the well respected Stpéhane Derenoncourt.
To try: Côtes de Bergerac Rouge 2015 & Côtes de Bergerac Rouge 2016
Each are blends of Cabernet Franc and Merlot with the 2016 getting a 5% dose of Malbec, too.
If the château described just above is sort of this region’s Cheval Blanc, then Château Bélingard could be its Figeac. Owned and operated by Laurent and Sylvie de Bosredon, the estate has been in the family since 1820. Their 75 hectares are situated in the Périgord, just a few kilometers from Bergerac.
The château produces reds, whites, rosés and sweet wines. The traditions that allow them to make such fine and elegant wines – their white Reserve 2015 for example is fresh, light and crisp – have been anchored in the family’s cellars and methods of elaborating their wines for generations. The Réserve Sec is 70% Sauvignon and 30% Semillon with its freshness belying its 13.5% alcohol level.
To try: Château Bélingard Réserve Bergerac Sec 2015; Ortus de Château Bélingard Côtes de Bérgerac Rouge; Blanche de Bosredon Monbazillac (perfect with foie gras and/or roquefort).
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