Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:34

Beginner’s’ guide to local wine

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There are two products that are clear winners when it comes to price comparisons between the UK and France. Firstly, property to which this whole website is dedicated, so no more need be said, and secondly, wine.

The South West region of France, including of course Bordeaux, is world famous for its wine
so we thought we’d include a little beginner’s guide to help you on your way.

 The South West produces a vast range of different wines using a whole variety of grapes and methods including red, white and rosé.

Bordeaux wines
The best wines of the South West are those produced in the Bordeaux region. Value for money bottled or boxed wines can be found at reasonable prices. The red wines tend to be full bodied, even harsh, when young. The white wines range from simple dry wines through to rich, full-bodied sweet wines, including Sauternes and Barsac. Most of the larger vineyards (often called Chateaux even though they may not have a castle) are open for visits and tastings. Many are in or close to picturesque villages, also worth a visit. If you go for a tasting you are expected to buy something.
Wines of Dordogne
To the east of the Bordeaux region is the department of the Dordogne.  This was originally known as Périgord which then also included some parts of surrounding departments. The name Périgord is still used througmap of perigord - old the old dordognehout the region.  

Périgord is divided into four areas called the Périgord Noir (Black), the Périgord Blanc (White), the Périgord Vert (Green) and the Périgord Pourpre (Purple) reputed to be named ‘purple’ because of the colour of its wine. Each of these regions has its own local specialties.
Bergerac wine
The Bergerac wine producing region is situated in the Périgord Pourpre region of the Périgord. It is a geographical continuation of the lands (terroirs) that characterize the wines of Bordeaux. It is only a few kilometres from famous Bordeaux names such as St. Emilion.

Interestingly wine producers in the Bergerac region use the same grape varieties as those used in the Bordeaux region i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, plus a couple of local varieties. As a consequence much of the wine produced in this region is very similar to the Bordeaux wines.

Oz Clarke, well-known wine writer, writes, ‘You wouldn’t really know you’d left Bordeaux when you taste most Dordogne wines. The soils are similar…Sunshine and heat are similar’. He goes on to write that the Bergerac wines produced in 79 communes are virtually indistinguishable from their Bordeaux counter-parts.’  (Oz Clarke’s New Wine Atlas, 2002). We add, apart from their lower price!

Hints on choosing your wines
Wines for sale in France are classified which indicates the quality of wine.  You will find the information you need on the wine bottle or the box labels (i.e. the date and the classification).  The wine classification system of France was changed in 2012 and became operative from 2013.  So you also need to have an idea of the classifications before and after 2013.  

wine appellation table
Should you wish to know more about the wines of a specific area visit its internet sites. Here is one that covers most of the South West of France.

Interprofession des Vins du Sud-Ouest


This article has been written for Perigord Property

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