See full story of 4 weeks in the Dordogne at Corkman on Tour 
Pecharmant Is Bergerac King

Got your wines in for the barbecue weather coming up? Here are a few tips, based on a recent trip to the Dordogne in France. But you don't have to fly off to Bergerac to stock up as most of these are available locally and on the net from Karwig Wines in Carrigaline and at other wine merchants and you’ll find them at a more reasonable price than Bordeaux equivalents.

I had been talking to Maurice O’Mahony of Karwig before the trip and he helped me compile my shopping list and, in addition, loaned me his precious copy of French Wines by Robert Joseph who has quite a high regard for the Bergerac wines.

The Bergerac reds are regarded as every bit as good as many of their Bordeaux neighbours and I put Pecharmant (a Bergerac AOC wine) top of my list, the individual winner being R du Roi. There is a lot of competition from bordering areas, headed up by Cahors where Malbec is prominent and including Fronsac, Buzet, Madiran, Gaillac and quite impressive Bandol.

Tried them all and didn't leave out Bordeaux either. One of the most interesting I came across was Montagne St Emilion. This Grand Vin de Bordeaux cost €6.99. This is apparently a wine from a Bordeaux “satellite” but if I’m on the last spaceship out of here, I’ll be happy to stock it up with this one. A Premier Cotes de Blaye wasn't half bad either.

The local Sarlat restaurants usually show much more red on their lists, to suit the local cuisine no doubt. Bergerac are the stables and then you get a selection of Pecharmant and of Cahors before moving on to the more expensive Bordeauxs.

I was lucky in the Auberge de Mirandol when a waiter pointed to sign on the wall and suggested I try their suggested Pecharmant called R du Roi (2004). It was splendid as was their Wine of the Month from Cahors. Unfortunately, the waiter told me the Pecharmant was not on sale locally.

On the hunt for the reds, I visited the House of Wine in Bergerac and got lost in the Cahor Vineyards (all pics from Cahors) before managing to find a large Cave where I stocked up. I also added to the list by purchasing at various specialist wine shops and, of course, the supermarkets.

The Cahors purchases included a Malbec at €4.00 a bottle, one of the cheapest I bought. Had I been a local I could have bought a good deal cheaper, if a barbecue was imminent. For instance, in the Cahors Cave, they had a vin de pays on sale for €3.00 a bottle and that was reduced to €2.25 in you bought twelve.

There is not that much vin de pays in the Sarlat area but I did get one, from Domme, at the supermarket. Just picked it up and threw in the trolley, only to find out later on that, at over 8 euro, it was my most expensive purchase that day. Thanks to Milos, who owned our holiday home, I was also able to taste some excellent Vin de Pays du Perigord but each time I went to the Cave to buy the place was closed.

There is any amount of local aperitifs and après digestifs made in the Dordogne and I was privileged to be given a free glass of a famous Old Plum Eau-de-Vie on my last night in the Mirandol. It was absolutely high quality. On the way home, passed a shop and saw a load of it on display but, unfortunately, the shop was closed for the night and closed when we drove out of town early the following morning.

That was one regret. But I did manage to purchase a bottle of Banyul, the fortified (port-like) wine from the Mediterranean coast. And I didn’t forget to stock up with some Sarlanoix, the nut liquor that I first came across in the area in 1993.

And the purchasing didn't stop on leaving the Dordogne. Despite the presence of many top Bordeaux names, I stayed loyal to Bergerac and added to my stock on board the Brittany ferries Pont Aven on the way from Roscoff to Cork where I also took the opportunity to replenish supplies of Campari, my favourite aperitif.

I am well set up for the summer. How about you?

My favourites
Pecharmant: R du Roi, Chateau de Tiregand Comtesse de St Expury 2007, Chateau Peyretaille.
Cahors: Chateau Les Haut d’Aglan, Château Les Bouysses 2002 (€7.40 a bottle) and a Cotes D’OIt Malbec 2005 (€4.00), St Didier Parnac Prestige, Chateau Le Coustarelle, La Cassot, Cahors 2005,
Bergerac: Chateau Belingard

Bergerac Red