Monday, 12 December 2011

I won’t be long love…. I’m just nipping down the Château!

I remember well the days, back in the UK, when shopping for wine generally meant a trip to the supermarket or off licence. More often than not, it was a bottle of mediocre and generally overpriced wine shoved hastily in the shopping basket after work or frantically trying out the numerous “wines of the week” or current promotions in order to search for a palatable tipple. It never seemed easy to choose wines and we never had the time. Well, that’s not how we do it anymore…….

Last weekend we spent a splendid afternoon in blissful early winter sunshine, driving around the wine Chateaux and many farms in the Dordogne region of Bergerac. Less well known than the Bordeaux varieties, one of the top quality wines produced by the Dordogne region is the Bergerac “Pecharmant” appellation. Situated to the northeast of Bergerac town it lies on predominantly south-facing slopes, covered with approximately 1,000 acres of vines. It produces very rich red wines with excellent ageing potential, with considerable complexity and finesse. Most of them are perfect for drinking now too!!

The actual process of choosing our wines was every bit as romantic as you could imagine. Armed with our “Hachet” wine guide and a few hours to spare, we drifted around the rolling hillsides, from producer to producer, trying the various wines and buying a dozen or so bottles at each stop. The producers of these wines vary from large and famous names, producing many tens of thousands of bottles, to the smallest farms making perhaps 5-6000 bottles a year from about 4 hectares of vines. When arriving, we were always warmly welcomed and then treated to a full description of each of the wines on offer, the chance to taste them all and even complete and unprompted tours of the full wine making facilities. One of the winemakers even sits you down the lounge of his farmhouse whilst he lets you sample his much loved products!!

Even though we have lived here for many years and can buy the wines of France very easily, you simply cannot beat the sheer thrill of visiting the Châteaux yourself and the satisfaction of choosing you own wines to suit your exact taste. The South-west of France including the neighbouring Bordeaux appellations, produces some of the world’s finest wines. We felt very privileged to be able to take a great day out to step back and appreciate the area as well as supporting our local producers directly and saving money as a result.

PS: I won’t tell you how carried away we got but suffice to say that we now have enough wine in our cellar to last us until Christmas 2015!!

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