Follow your NOSE
France|January 2020
The Bergerac-Duras wine region is rich in history and home to inspired wine producers and delicious regional delicacies, as Paola Westbeek discovers
Paola Westbeek

The medieval town of Bergerac glows with soft sunlight that casts a golden veil over its amber-coloured stone buildings and rustic half-timbered houses.

On Place Pélissière, the largest and most attractive square, restaurant terraces are abuzz with the good life as waiters balancing carafes of wine whizz past local hero Cyrano de Bergerac’s famed long nose.

A little farther uptown, there’s a market being held at the foot of the towering 19th-century Église Notre-Dame. Stalls lure you in with regional delicacies such as tinned duck, fragrant walnut oil, zingy goat’s cheeses and Périgord strawberries so ripe and aromatic you can smell them from afar. Not only does every corner of Bergerac ooze joie de vivre, but the town also boasts a rich wine history that dates back to Gallo-Roman times.

Discovering the wines

Though Bergerac was founded in the 11th century, the first grapes were planted in the area towards the end of the 3rd century. Because of its strategic location on the banks of the Dordogne, wine trade blossomed and by the 13th century, Henry III of England had granted Bergerac the right to export its wines.

Today, the wine region attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually and there’s no better place to embark on an oenological journey than at Bergerac’s old port, or more specifically, at Quai Cyrano.

The new Masion des Vins et du Tourisme opened in July last year in an attractive building complete with a spacious and inviting wine bar on the second floor. I met with MariePierre Tamagnon (from the Interprofessional des Vins de Bergerac et Duras) last August for an apéro at the wine bar’s panoramic terrace, and while enjoying an aromatic glass of the 2005 Château Les Côteaux de Larchère Monbazillac with assiettes of local cheese and charcuterie, I took in the magnificent views over the Dordogne and realised once again why this has become my favourite region.

It’s more than the wines. The food, landscapes and fascinating cultural heritage are all impressive, too.

Great diversity

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