France: South West France

The Dordogne

The Wines of Bergerac, Duras, Marmande and Buzet
By Paul Strang

This Guide was last updated on 28 July 2011
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Main appellations

Bergerac

The wines come in all colours, the whites ranging from bone dry to sweet. Apart from the two Cabernets and Merlot, Cot (aka Malbec) and Fer Servadou are sometimes used for the reds, the whites being made mainly from Sémillon (for dry and sweet wines) which dominates, Sauvignon (dry wines) and Muscadelle (sweet wines).

Côtes de Bergerac

Same area as Bergerac with red and white wines only, but the whites tend to be sweet. In practice, the Côtes are a step up from basic Bergerac and often matured at least partially in barrel.

Montravel

A complicated inner appellation of Bergerac. The whites are mainly dry. Some say that the height of the vineyards above the river gives them a special minerality.  There are also separate appellations for Côtes de Montravel (medium sweet) and Haut Montravel (very sweet indeed) where the Sauvignon grape is entirely replaced by Sémillon and Muscdelle. There is yet another Montravel appellation for red wines, always matured in barrel and often tending towards a New World style with a minimum of 50% Merlot.

Pécharmant

Another red wine appellation within the Bergerac region, where the iron and manganese which underlie the soil give the wines a robustness and ageing capacity above the regional average. Cot (Malbec) is favoured by some growers as being particularly suited to this terroir. Quality is being improved by increased density of vine-plantings.

Monbazillac

Sweet wines from across the river from Bergerac town, made from botrytized grapes of Sémillon, together with Muscadelle and sometimes a little Sauvignon. Some of the best vineyards lie on the north facing slopes of the Dordogne River and benefit from the morning mists that provoke the noble rot. Hand picking is a legal requirement.

Saussignac

A younger sister of Monbazillac with wines made in a similar way. The wines have much more minerality.

Rosette

A Cinderella appellation making semi-sweet wines ideal to accompany foie gras or simply as an aperitif. The grapes are mostly Sémillon with a little Muscadelle.

Côtes de Duras

A southern extension of the Bergerac vineyard, making wines in all three colours, of a similar style and range and from the same grape varieties. Sauvignon dominates the dry whites.

Côtes de Marmandais

Appellation mainly for fruity reds and rosés made predominately from the two Cabernet varieties and Merlot together, but some Malbec, Fer Servadou, Syrah and/or the traditional Abouriou grape and Gamay must also be part of the blend, distinguishing the wines from others in this section. A little dry white is made too from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Buzet

Upstream towards Agen, this popular appellation is dominated firmly by the local cooperative. Red, rosé and white wines based on the traditional Bordeaux varieties.

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