Bordeaux and Saint Emilion are the two best-known wine regions that lie not too far from Bourdeilles. Cognac can be included if you push the boundaries. A little past not tooo far. However, before the botrytis blight (1929) killed off the vineyards in France we also had two very important vineyards in Bourdeilles. Both built very impressive chateaux, barns and grounds. One, just over the ridge of our valley, was Chateau de la Cote. Now it is a very nice hotel. The other, just on the way out of town, was called Chateau Les Granges de Valeuil. Which is now the home of OohLaLa France! The fading light of an evening stroll lets you easily conjure up the lost grandeur of the former vineyard.
Now the closest wine production is a bit south of us in what is called the Bergerac Region. This region is made up of 13 appellations. (Meaning a registered vintner)
The very closest appellation to us is called Pecharmant, Charming Hill. I love these rich wines that taste of the earth and are hard to find, even in France, outside of this region.
Within this appellation I have chosen Chateau Terre Vielle, a seventh generation run vineyard, for our OohLaLaFrance wine tasting outing. This 400 hectare area, producing A.O.C. wine (wine of controlled origin) is northeast of the city of Bergerac and spreads across the sunny hillsides of the Dordogne River valley. It is the oldest vineyard in the Bergerac wine area, dating back to the 11th century. The Pécharmant winegrowers here produce a good red wine for aging, of a very distinctive taste that combines strength and aromatic intensity. This highly specific, unique taste of Pécharmant wine comes from the particularity of its soil, composed of layers of gravely sand and iron, known as "tran". The wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot grapes.
The literature on the currently available wines reads:
"Strongly recommended in the Hachette Wine Guide- Silver Medal at Concours Agricole de Paris " A brilliant wine of an attractive crimson color enhanced with ruby tints. A highly powerful nose creates a strong first impression, marked by vanilla aromas and toasted bread note. On opening the aroma of black fruits (cherries and blackberries) can be distinguished. In the mouth, its attack is mild and, despite its youth, the tannins are already mellow and refined. To accompany cheese, game and conserves of duck.
“On stirring, aromas of toasted bread and red fruit (cranberries) can be perceived. Expressive, fresh "nez". The tannings are silky: a velvety sensation invades the mouth. This wine can be appreciated as from now with great pleasure.
On this same day out we will visit another more famous vineyard, the Chateau de Monbazillac, but I’ll save that story for another day.
Even if one does not drink wine a visit to a French vineyard is a moving experience. An hour here is a glimpse into the intense pride and elegance of the French culture.