The Wines of Bergerac, Duras, Marmande and Buzet
By Paul Strang
This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Aquitaine, through which the Dordogne flows, is not just Bordeaux. Adjoining without a break are the vineyards of Bergerac, Duras and Marmande, with Buzet only a few miles further inland. The grape varieties used here are the same as Bordeaux, and the wine style is therefore quite different from all the other wines of South West France. Bergerac is a large district including under its skirts the areas of Monbazillac, Saussignac, Pécharmant, Rosette and Montravel. To the south, a ridge forms a watershed from which the streams of the Duras, Marmande and Buzet flow into the Garonne. The countryside throughout is lush and contrasts with the barren limestone plateaux further east; the vines, usually grown on the higher slopes above the rivers share the land with sunflowers, maize and fruit trees.
This is ‘la douce France’ indeed, the sun of the south balancing a basically Atlantic climate. It is a land of romantic castles, of battle-torn history between rival religions, of elegant manor houses and Romanesque churches, and of course the cooking of the Périgord, world-famous partner for the regional wines.
The soil is a mix of limestone, clay and marl which suits the Merlot grape, here largely dominant, rather than Cabernet Sauvignon. Sometimes citrus and other fruit flavours derive from pockets of flint, while the Pécharmant area is underpinned by strength-giving iron. Erosions from smaller rivers are the basis of the Duras vineyards, where limestone dominates the upper slopes and clay the lower ones, and where the alluvial deposits of the ancient streams add richness to the juice from the vines.
The area benefits from the Gulf Stream feeding the Bay of Biscay to the west, while a hint of Mediterranean warmth gives slightly higher temperatures and longer sunshine hours than experienced in Bordeaux. Indian summers seem to be more frequent these days, late autumn sunshine allowing the grapes to remain on the vine for maximum maturity. Mainly mild winters can be interrupted rudely by cold north-east wins blowing down from the Massif Central, while hail is an ever-present danger during spring and summer storms. Frost is rare except in the low river-valley areas, and generally temperatures average a gentle 13˚C and a temperate rainfall of 800 millimetres. No wonder the region is much loved by Anglo-Saxons.
The fastest route from Paris, by car, is to take the A10 direction Bordeaux. To access Bergerac and Duras continue along the A10, but before Bordeaux city centre and the Pont d’Aquitaine take the A630 (the périphérique or ring-road) heading south, and either take exit 24 to join the D936, or exit 22 and continue along the D10 and N113 which take you along the Garonne riverbank to Marmande. A more scenic route can be found by leaving the A10 at Saint André de Cubzac and driving along the D670 to Libourne and onto Saint Emilion. From here join the D936 which takes you to the town of Bergerac, then heading south on the D933 you will pass through the Duras vineyards and reach Marmande. Marmande and Buzet can also be reached from the Bordeaux-Toulouse motorway A62. By train, the TGV Atlantique service reaches Bordeaux in less than three hours from Paris, five hours from Lille and seven from Brussels. Local trains service the Bergerac area. The main local airports are at Bordeaux-Mérignac and Bergerac.
Maison des Vins de Bergerac,
2 Place Cayla, Quai Salvette, 24100 Bergerac
Union Interprofessionelle des Vins des Côtes de Duras,
des Vignerons, 47120 Duras
Bergerac Tourist Office,
97 Rue Neuve d’Argenson, 24100 Bergerac
Tel: 05 53 57 03 11
Les Vignerons de Buzet,
Avenue des côtes de Buzet, 47160 Buzet-sur-Baïse
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