Bergerac | France’s Hidden Treasure
For centuries, the wines of Bergerac have been cast into the shadows of the grands vins of the Bordelais. However, this humble region is slowly but surely measuring up.
Bergerac is an appellation that lies to the east of Bordeaux. It is located along the Dordogne River and is known mostly for its touristy cottage country of castles and foie gras rather than for its wine.
Through innovation and attention to detail in the vineyard, ambitious winemakers are bringing to light the exciting array of wines that this region has to offer. There was a time when Bergerac’s vines struggled to ripen their grapes due to the damp and more continental climate, rather than the more maritime influence received in Bordeaux. However, with the help of climate change, and with precise trellising and pruning of the vines, the viticulteurs of Bergerac are achieving wonderful concentration and plush fruit-forwardness in their wines.
Red, white, rosé and the region’s slightly botrytized moelleux (sweet) wines have proven popular — millennials, especially, have been catching on to the esoteric side of Bergerac.
The red wines are produced mirroring the style of their noble neighbour, while harvesting the same grape varieties, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. One could perhaps put a finger on Bergerac’s reds for their slight tendency toward that love-it-or-hate-it Brett fault or characteristic. Fortunately, the trend nowadays seems to be an easing up on the oak to bring more elegance to these bolstering wines.
For years the white wines of Bergerac (along with the white wines of Bordeaux) were unheard of or forgotten. Increasingly, they are appearing on restaurant menus where the hipster sommelier generation in New York and San Francisco puts emphasis on that heavenly blend: clean and zesty Sauvignon Blanc balanced perfectly with round and honeyed Sémillon.
Time to expand your palate: Bergerac in the glass is definitely worth exploring!