Some Appellations (AOC) of Bergerac reds are Bergerac Rouge, Côtes de Bergerac Rouge, Pécharmant, Bergerac Rosé. AOC’s of dry whites include Bergerac Sec, Montravel and rich whites from Côtes de Bergerac Moelleux, Rosette, Saussignac and sweet dessert of Monbazillac.
Bergerac, both a town and a wine area, is the largest producing AOC and one of the most beautiful wines, red and white, of Southwest France. Directly east of Bordeaux the town of Bergerac presides in the middle of the region on the banks of the beautiful Dordogne River and holds forth in a landscape more varied and, yes, we’ll admit it, more stunning than Bordeaux. The red wines are ripe and earthy; the whites are both dry, Bergerac Sec, and sweet such as the AOC Monbazillac on the left bank of the river. The four large districts of Bergerac are Bergerac, Monbazillac, Montravel and Pécharmant. The red Côte de Bergerac has a higher minimum alcohol content of 11% rather than 10%.
Like Bordeaux wines and very much a reflection of these, the Bergerac vineyards have been cultivated since Roman times. The wines were exported in the Middle Ages by monks who greatly influenced the area’s viticulture. After the 100 years war it was the Dutch wine trade that dominated the exports of sweet wines. The wine disease which hit all Bordeaux wines was particularly devastating in this area and Bergerac was slow to recover. Even now the 33,360 acres (13,500 hectares) are a fraction of the area of vines in 1870. But through all this the wines of Bergerac have maintained their quality and originality.
Among the vines you will find the classic Bordeaux varieties of Cabernets, Cabernets Franc, Malbec (Cot) and Merlot for the red wines and Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle for white wines. Bergerac is an area of proud and unpretentious family owned châteaux with vintners who are passionate about their wines.
The Franciscan Friary in Bergerac, built between the 11th and 17th centuries, houses the Maison du Vin and is an excellent place to visit for a comprehensive overview of the Bergerac wines and history. You’ll find friendly and knowledgeable advice on which local châteaux are open and offer tastings and tours.