I am a big fan of John Nettles... loved him in Bergerac, love him still in Midsomer Murders, even love him in France dubbed in what they call 'Barnaby', which I watched the rainy afternoon in Villefranche sur Saône.
Anyhow, I digress. The journey from Bordeaux to Bergerac was much shorter than I had anticipated, so by late morning I had arrived at the Château de Monbazillac, a beautfully charming castle/manor house
But its top attraction was the absolutely stunning panoramic view down the valley and right across to Bergerac city.
I toured the house which had its own little wine museum in the basement; the ground floor dedicated to past residents and the second floor dedicated to famous sons of the Bergerac region, including a caricaturist called 'Sen'... I hadn't heard of him, but I recognised his work, particularly the drawings and artwork he did for the famous 'Maxim's' of Paris
After leaving the house proper, I made my way to the little visitor centre for a tasting of the sweet wines which make this appellation famous.
- AOC Monbazillac - Grains d'Or 2006 - This was described to me as falling within the 'least sweet' category. It was a 10/80/10 blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon/Muscadel which gave a raisin, sweet lemon and apricot nose and light confit lemon and raisin flavours in the mouth.
- AOC Monbazillac - Château La Sabatière 2005 - This 'medium sweet' category wine was an 85/15 blend of Sémillon/Muscadel which had aromas of raisn, bossom and slightly paraffin. To taste, apricots, honey and the heat of the alcohol.
- AOC Monbazillac - Château de Monbazillac 2005 - This 'sweet' category wine was an 10/75/15 blend of Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon/Muscadel from the vines I had just walked through had aromas of raisn, orange and blossom on the nose. To taste, orange, lemon, apricots, raisins and a little honey... Yes, it was sweet, but in such a fruity way, not sweet like sugar.
I headed down the hill the few kms to Bergerac the city/big town. It's a quaint town with a very lovely oldy-worldy charming 'old town'
And is also situated on either side of the Dordogne river, linked by an old bridge and a newer one.
The quays were very important in days gone by, especially the use of barges to transport wine and cereals, but now they are more of a tourist point, but with an excellent Maison du Vin just opposite!
I should just mention here, that I ate lunch in Bergerac and for my dessert, I asked for 1 scoop of lemon sorbet. When it arrived, it was actually lime (actually my preference, but not all places have it!) and with a wink, the waiter told me it was a gift from him... Very flattering one might think... except, in all honesty, and no false humility, I actually have now reached an age where this 'boy', for that is all he was, could very well have been my son. It struck me that I was wearing the same dress as when I encountered the overly friendly fellows at the Wine Museum in Chinon, so thought.... 'Hmmm, I must really suit this dress', until I reached tonight's hotel and saw my reflection in the mirror with the sun behind me... Bit of a Princess Di moment...
Anyway, I still managed to taste some Bergerac wines before I made my way to the hotel for the night - 2 dry whites and 3 reds - although I managed to get the grape varieties, the information for the proportions was unavailable except for the last one:
- AOC Bergerac Sec - Château Belingard 2009 - A Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon/Muscadel blend - so interestin that the same blends can make both sweet and dry wines... and remember in France, the artificial addition of sugar is prohibited, so the difference is all down to nature! So, ont the nose, a subtle nectarine, sweet apple and blossom nose leading to a fresh, subtly citrus, floral, apple flavoured wine.
- AOC Bergerac Sec - Château K 2008 - A Sauvignon Gris/Sémillon/Muscadel blend of organic wine aged in oak for 6 months with an interesting nose of wood, raisin, blossom and pear. Similarly, the flavours on the palate were very fresh and bright - fruity - apples, pears, white peach, with vanilla and even a little tannin was detectable, but as a positive addition.
- AOC Bergerac - Château Jeanbrun 2008 - A Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend giving a nose, well giving a right hook across the face of CHERRIES!!! with a little strawberry and raspberry for good measure! The taste was light, elegant - a fruity wine with cherry and raspberry flavours - this is a wine to drink young... At most could be kept through next year, but why do that when it's ready right now?
- AOC Pécharmant (just to the north-east of Bergerac city) - Domaine du Grand Jarre 2007 - This 12 month barrel aged blend of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc was fruity to the nose with a hint of vanilla. On the palate, again, light and fruity with oak notes, but for me, the tannins were a little astringent, so this one is for keeping... even up to 10 years.
- AOC Montravel (west of Bergerac, where Bordeaux ends and Bergerac begins, on the banks of the Dordogne) - Château Moulin Caresse 2004 - Grand Cuvée - This appellation must be aged in barrel 18 months AND then kept in bottle for 1 year before being released for sale. This 50/35/15 Merlot/Cabernet (not specified which or both)/Malbec blend had rich, dark cherry aromas on the nose; even blackberry and blackcurrant jam and cinnamon as well. To taste, damsons, again, dark cherries, but a little astringent on the tannins. Another one to keep for up to 12 years.