Posted by: tomciocco | January 28, 2013

BERGERAC KNOWS…IT WALKS IN GIANT FOOTSTEPS

Downriver on the Dordogne west of Bergerac, where it meets the Garonne to form the Gironde, rests what is probably the most famous wine region in the world, the noble and celebrated Bordeaux. This is the region where scores of producers, way back in the 1850s, most of which still exist today, were graded into five quality brackets (the “classed growths” as they’re known) that still pretty accurately reflect what goes into barrels today; a region where many growers have “Chateau” before their names, and in every case there really is a castle – this is where all the fake “Chateaux” the world over yanked the name from, not to mention the even more pervasive, and dare I say hackneyed “Bordeaux Blend” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot that can be found in nearly countless bottles from Washington to Chile to Australia…

And poor Bergerac has been at it every bit of the 2,000 years that its superstar neighbor Bordeaux has, and half a world away, an upstart like Napa Valley, in just 100 years time, has become far more famous for “their” wines than they have. In some part, the quality of much of the Bergerac terroir cannot match either Bordeaux’s or Napa’s, but to keep it fair, Bergerac is a large region, and certain sites can indeed rival the world’s best. But for a few political and economic shafts this area suffered at some crucial points in its history, it might be Bergerac and not Bordeaux or Napa on the lips of world…

With Bergerac being both further inland and at higher elevations, its wines tend to be a bit stiffer and more sylvan than the more polished Bordeaux . The Begerac blend also frequently augments the core Sauvignon/Franc/Merlot mix with the more frequent use of Cot (Malbec as it’s known in Bordeaux, where it is still in use by some Chateaux) as well as Fer Servadou and the rare Merille, which are not permitted in Bordeaux all. These distinctions regarding vines and soil, the inexorably rising prices of  Bordeaux, and the recent push to better understand and tap Bergerac’s best terroirs, give this under-appreciated corner of southwestern France a great chance to fill some much bigger shoes…

The menu was made up of a pureed (guess who got his fist immersion blender for Christmas?) fennel, cauliflower, and potato soup with a bit of cream and fresh dill, and then a mock cassoulet: Andouille sausage, leftover braised chicken, Great Northern beans, tomatoes, vegetables, wine, herbs, etc. baked for a few hours in the oven. Bread for the gravy.

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Domaine du Petit Paris Bergerac Rouge 2008

Blackish, deep magenta color. Forward nose of plum and black cherry fruit, wood-roasted green peppers, vanilla bean, briar, white pepper, and soy sauce. The medium-full palate is nimble and vivacious with a layered, velvety texture, dry, smooth tannins, and elegantly rustic flavors of blackberries, currants, cloves, roasted chestnuts, cocoa, and mint. Expressive finish of clay, stones, and violet.

 

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Responses

  1. I always associate a Bergerac Rouge with my first duck confit in Paris each winter or spring at a favorite bistro. Or even if I make the duck confit myself. A perfect match, if there ever was one.

  2. It really was a great pairing with the “cassoulet” and the “duck confit” contained therein…Thanks.


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