Posts Tagged Bergerac

Bordeaux-quality wine without the price tag

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First published in The Irish Times September 16th, 2017

We move from Bordeaux priced at €35-€120 last week to four wines each costing less than €16. The two seem worlds apart, yet the distance from Château Petrus (average price €2,400 a bottle) in Bordeaux, to the Château le Payral is less than 50km. Bergerac will be familiar to many from summer holidays but how many of us know the wines? This small region, seemingly permanently in the shadow of its better-known neighbour, Bordeaux, is responsible for some of the best value wines in France.

The two regions share the same grape varieties and the climate is broadly similar; Bergerac is a little more continental, warmer in summer and colder in winter. Grapes ripen a week to 10 days later than in Bordeaux. As is often the case, the French wine authorities don’t make life easy for wine lovers, with 13 appellations for the region. Today we will stick to Bergerac and Bergerac Sec for the white wines.

 The red wines are made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. For the dry whites (as well as sweet wines, in which the area excels) there is Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle. The use of a little Sémillon and/or Muscadelle can add an extra dimension to Sauvignon Blanc; lovers of Sauvignon from the Loire, Chile and New Zealand should certainly give these wines a try.

 Many of the cheaper red wines are similar in style to their counterparts in Bordeaux, and not in a good way. Light, scrawny and a little green, these are not wines to set a wine-lover’s pulse racing, and could explain why few Irish wine companies import from Bergerac. Possibly the large number of less discerning tourists visiting the region allows average producers to survive. However, there is a small group of more ambitious producers who offer some outstanding wines at prices that are very reasonable.

Two properties stand out as being special: Clos des Verdots, once imported by Superquinn but sadly no longer available, and Château Tour des Gendres, whose wines have featured on these pages many times. Both entry-level wines, red and white – €15.15 from Le Caveau and independents – are outstanding. There are plenty of other small producers trying hard to make good wine.

 Recently, two importers sent me samples from their Bergerac producers. All four wines were excellent and three come in at just over €15 a bottle. Not everyday wines, but they won’t break the bank either. The reds are easy, fruity and fluid, perfect with lighter meat dishes. The whites are textured and refreshing at the same time, great as an aperitif or with seafood salads and chicken.


Ch. Le Payral 2016, Bergerac Sec (Organic), 12%, €15.50

Ch. Le Payral 2016, Bergerac Sec (Organic)

Floral and perfumed, filled with beautiful fresh, waxy green fruit with a crisp finish. Even better an hour later. A Sauvignon, Sémillon, Muscadelle blend. Stockists: Clontarf Wines; Green Man Wines; 64 Wines

Ch. Le Payral 2016, Bergerac (Organic), 13.5%, €15.50

Just-ripe dark crunchy blackcurrants, a nice seam of acidity, light tannins, decent length. I love it; great price, too.
Stockists: Clontarf Wines; Green Man Wines; 64 Wines

Ch. des Eyssards 2014 Cuvée Prestige,Bergerac, 14%, €15.50

Ch. des Eyssards 2014 Cuvée Prestige, Bergerac

Medium to full-bodied with warm ripe dark fruits edged with a sprinkle of spice.
Stockists: Wines Direct, Mullingar and Arnotts, Dublin

Posted in: Irish Times

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Primo de Conti Rouge 2014, Bergerac

Primo de Conti Rouge 2014, Bergerac

DSCF6904Primo de Conti Rouge 2014, Bergerac
€16 from Marks & Spencer

Lovely elegant just-ripe blackcurrant fruits with cigar box and cedar wood, finishing with some well-judged tannins. So much better than most Bordeaux at this price.

Perfect with a dinner party roast of lamb, beef, or pork.

Luc de Conti and his family have been producing excellent wines, both red and white for many years, under the Tour des Gendres label. Based in Bergerac, right beside Bordeaux, they use similar grape varieties, grown biodynamically. Their wines over-deliver every time. This is a cuvée produced for Marks & Spencer.

Posted in: Top Drop

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Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.

<strong>Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.</strong>

Image 13Bergerac Blanc 2015, Mayne de Beauregard.
€11.79 from Marks & Spencer

Clean waxy yellow apple fruit with plenty of aroma and verve. Great value at €11.79 too.

A good all-rounder to drink with fish, seafood and lighter pasta dishes, as well as white meats.

Down in southwest France, in a large area that includes Bordeaux and Bergerac, they have always done things slightly differently. Here Sauvignon Blanc is always blended with Sémillon, a lesser known and very underrated grape variety. Sauvignon is fresh and crisp, whereas Sémillon is lower in acidity and broader in the palate. Blend the two together and you get the perfect combination, often much more interesting than a plain Sauvignon. This week’s wine, from Marks & Spencer, is a mix of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Sémillon from Bergerac.

Posted in: Daily Drop

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Tour de Gendres Rouge 2014, Bergerac

<strong>Tour de Gendres Rouge 2014, Bergerac</strong>

tour 2011Tour de Gendres Rouge 2014, Bergerac
€15-15.50 from Avoca, Rathcoole; Baggot St. Wines; The Corkscrew, Chatham St.; Donnybrook Fair; Liston’s, Camden St.; World Wide Wines, Waterford; 64wine, Glasthule; MacGuiness, Dundalk; Le Caveau, Kilkenny; Green Man Wines, Terenure.

At one time, this was one of my all-time favourite red wines. I hadn’t come across it for a while so for a while, so I was delighted to see it at a tasting recently; it is as good as ever and still something of a bargain. Made by the de Conti family in Bergerac (right next-door to Bordeaux) this is modern French winemaking at its best. Light fresh blackcurrant and plum fruits, no oak and a dryish finish. Clean and moreish; perfect everyday wine to match up with roast meats – pork, lamb or beef, or pâtés and other charcuterie.

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Gloire de mon Père 2014, Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

Gloire de mon Père 2014, Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

gloryGloire de mon Père 2014, Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

€22 from Le Caveau, Kilkenny, Green Man Wines, Terenure, 64wine, Glasthule and other leading independent wine shops.

Smooth elegant wine with ripe blackcurrant fruits, a touch of spice and a long dry finish. Serve it with roast red meats.

Luc de Conti has long been a shining beacon in Bergerac, an underrated region next door to Bordeaux. I am a big fan of the Tour de Gendres ‘classique’ (see above) his entryish level red that sells for around €15. However for €7 more, you can buy the Gloire de mon Père, and glorious it is too. A blend of 50% Cabernet sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Malbec, this is a Bordeaux lookalike of the very highest quality; except if it came from Bordeaux it would cost a lot more.

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A few snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

A Few Snapshots from the Le Caveau tasting.

Wine importer Le Caveau held a great tasting during the week. There were many, many highlights, including wines from Morocco, Georgia and England. Below a very brief look at three producers. More to follow.

Wiston Estate & Sugrue Pierre, West Sussex

Dermot Sugrue makes some of the best sparkling wines in England; the Wiston Blanc de Blancs (€53) is a delight, complex with brioche, racy acidity and delicious plump fruit. The vintage Rosé 2011(€62) has matured very nicely showing lovely ripe raspberry fruits. Dermot’s own wine, the Pierre Sugrue ‘The Trouble with Dreams’ is a wonderful creamy complex wine, which made the Champagne next door seem a little ordinary, no mean feat as this was Philipponnat Royale Réserve Brut.

Ch. Turcaud, Bordeaux

Stéphane Le May makes that wonderful thing; inexpensive Bordeaux. I love his red wine (€14.95), a classic light juicy dry Bordeaux, but it was one of his white wines, the Cuvée Majeure that stood out; the 2014, a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Gris, the remainder Sémillon fermented in new oak is a superb balanced rich textured dry white. A bargain at around €19.

Tour des Gendres, Bergerac

Guillaume de Conti, cousin of winemaker Luc de Conti was there to present these marvelous wines, amongst my all-time favourites. Both red and white offer great value. The Bergerac Rouge Classic 2014 (€15.15) was light fresh and fruity; the Cuvée des Contis Blanc fresh and textured, and the superb elegant Bordeaux lookalike, Gloire de Mon Père 2012, astounding value at around €22.


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