Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bergerac - Monbazillac

Technically where we were staying in France was not Bergerac but Monbazillac some 10K south,which is one of the 12 AOCs (Appellations d'origine contrôlée) of Bergerac. Monbazillac itself is moderately famous for producing a sweet wine in the style of Sauternes (more of this later), and a rather fine castle.

(BS, GS, YHB with Little Bill aboard, at the Chateau)

So one very wet and rainy Thursday, ourselves (your humble blogger, herself and Little Bill), GS & BS decided to "do" the castle, which was perfectly nice and then we headed back to the visitors centre for our "free" glass of wine. I wasn't overly impressed with any of the wines tasted.

We decided to make our way to the local Cave as we needed to get some Fois Gras to go with a bottle of Monbazillac we'd bought in the Bergerac market the previous day, and we wanted to see if there was any decent Vino to be bought. They had a few wines open for tasting and BS bought six Bergerac Sec (the Appellation of the dry white wine produced locally) and I got six Chateau Pion 2002, which they had to taste there along with the 2003. Funnily enough 2003 didn't seem to be as good a year as 2002 in Bergerac, I know its right beside Bordeaux but all the 2003 Bergeracs I tasted were sharper and less rounded than their equivalent 2002s. Maybe the 2003 is still too young whereas the 2002 is drinking well now.

After this we were stuck, still raining and no place to go. Luckily one of our housemates JG had found a little Chateau nearby beside the village of Pomport the previous day and had been graciously received by the lady of the Chateau and had bought a few cases of the their 2002. So, Wine Trail map in hand we sped off to find Chateau Caillavel.

As before we were graciously received by the lady of the Chateau (whose name we never got) and our first and most pressing question was "Ou est la toilette?" Herself took Little Bill off and the rest of us started the tasting. Their Bergerac Sec was amazing, a Sauvignon Blanc with crisp fruits and a lovely balance. For the reds The 2007 (Merlot) was young but promising, the 2003 (non oak aged) was little rough but the 2002 (Oak Barrels) was really special. A complex wine, fruity, oaky, tannic but all well integrated. We had the first bottle last night, a little nervously, hoping that it would be as good as we remembered, and it was. She also opened a bottle of their Monbazillac - Chateau Haut-Theulet 2004 which was as good as any Sauternes I've tasted.

In the end I bought 6 of the white, 6 of the 2002 and a 500ml bottle of the Monbazillac - for the incredible sum of €80! €4 for the white, €8 for the red and a tenner for the Monbazillac. She brought into the barrel room and showed us the 2005 which I want to return to taste once its bottled.

My total purchases on the trip were:
6X Chateau Guillou - Montagne St Emilion - 2005 - €7-77
6X Chateau de Clotte - Cotes de Castillon - 2005 - €6-28
6X Chateau Pion - Bergerac - 2002 - €7-50
6X Chateau Cailleval - Cotes de Bergerac - 2002 - €8-00
6X Chateau Cailleval - Bergerac Sec - 2007 - €4-10
1X Chateau Haut-Theulet - Monbazillac - 2004 - €10-50

Perhaps I should have got more, there was certainly some great value to be had if you had the means to transport the wine home. But in these straightened economic times I couldn't justify blowing the wad on wine, either that or I'm just a pussy.

Either way I would recommend the Bergerac region for wine lovers of all shapes and sizes, and we were. There were a couple of certified wine bores, a couple of well travelled wine drinkers and a couple of enthusiastic amateurs, and all seemed to find what they were looking for.

BTW - We should have gone to Pecharmant, which produces some fab reds , GG went on his own one day and returned with some lovely red and a dozen "Cyrano De Bergerac" which were demolished during a particulary fractious but ultimately victorious (for the guys) game of Ariculate.

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