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Guest Blogger – Billy Lyons and his trip to Bergerac

September 18th, 2010

The famous Billy Lyons from Cork gives his thoughts on Bergerac and Monbazillac

A WINE AMATEUR’S DAY TRIP IN BERGERAC AND MONBAZILLAC

During this summer’s holiday in the Dordogne, there was always going to be a trip to the Maison de Vins in Bergerac and our Sat-Nav took us from our base in Sarlat right to the door but the quayside parking area (once used for loading barrels of wine) was full, though there was ample within walking distance.

Pigs Roasting

The House of Bergerac Wines is in an old religious building, the Cloitre des Recollets and, if you enter from the back, you will be in the old courtyard. A long panel tells the story of wine through the ages in French and English and then you go downstairs.

Here you may take in a video, again in English or French, on the season in a vineyard. Then you must do your sniffing test. All the “parfums” are in little glasses (with lids). Check how good your nose is. Mine was dire.

Cyrano

The next stop is the shop. There is a huge stock as all of the local AOCs: Bergerac sec, Bergerac rosé, Bergerac rouge, Côtes de Bergerac Blanc, Côtes de Bergerac Rouge, Monbazillac, Montravel, Côtes de Montravel, Haute Montravel, Montravel Rouge, Pécharmant, Rosette and Saussignac. Many of the producers have a small display with order leaflets.

The shop is very well laid out with the bottles numbered and priced around a centre stand. I had already purchased bottles from most of the AOCs, so I concentrated on the Montravel whites and went to choose a few bottles. The assistant was very helpful at this point.

This building is situated in an old area of Bergerac and nearby you have the possibility of visiting the Museum of Tobacco and the Museum of Wine and on the roads out of the town there are many opportunities to visit the vineyards and we took advantage to purchase some Pecharmant, my favourite red of the area.

Wine Museum

Another highlight was a visit to Monbazillac. Built around 1550, the Chateau of Monbazillac stands today almost exactly as when built by the Aydie family more than four centuries ago. This was a very interesting visit indeed, highlights including the drive through the vineyards and the views out to Bergerac town, the Grand Salon, the Mouney-Sully Hall, the Grand Staircase and the Hall of Bottles.

Chateau

The world renowned vineyard was first cultivated in the 11th century and is famous for using “the noble rot” method to make its sweet wines which draw thousands of visitors every year. We availed of the tasting service, naturally, and purchased some of the golden nectar along with some Bergerac Rouge and Bergerac Sec.

“In entering this place, you are entering a part of the History of France”. So says one of the chateau’s leaflets. Today, the Wine Cooperative of Monbazillac owns the chateau and makes every effort to look after the monument and open it as much as possible to visitors. For €6.40, we thought it was very good value indeed.

Billy writes about the Cork restaurant, food and drink scene, at http://corkfood.blogspot.com/ and you may read much more about this year’s month long trip to the Dordogne at http://swissroll07.blogspot.com/

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