The Bergerac Region
The Dordogne is one of the great rivers of France. It begins in the Massif Central and flows westward to Bordeaux. In Bordeaux, it joins with the Garonne to make the Gironde Estuary which flows out to the Atlantic. In past times, the Dordogne has been essential for the transportation of Bergerac wines using “Gabbers,” which are large flat-bottomed boats used for taking wine barrels down river to other markets. Today, tourists are the cargo of choice. The path of the river has created a rich alluvial soil in the river valley which along with other geological and climatic elements has created excellent wine growing conditions.
The Bergerac wine region adjoins the Bordeaux region, one of the best known wine areas of the world. After much debate about the boundaries for the Bordeaux region, it was decided in the early 20th century that the boundaries would coincide with those set by the Gironde local government. This left the wine region of the Bergerac outside these limits yet it actually has many of the same or similar geological and climatic characteristics as its neighboring Bordeaux region. For many years, Bergerac has been in the shadow of its famous neighbour and this has affected its position in the market place. Fortunately, due to the determined pursuit of quality and the consistent efforts of dynamic winemakers in the region, the excellent wines that are available from this area are gaining greater recognition.
Climatically, the Bergerac region can be characterized as having a less maritime or more continental climate than Bordeaux. It has marginally less rain and more sunshine giving it a little bit longer ripening season which can be critical in some years.
The Bergerac wine region has approximately 12,800 hectares of planted vines, encompassing 93 villages and approximately 1,000 winemakers creating wine in accordance with the Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) guidelines.
There are 13 Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) areas in this region which are:
Rosé wines: Bergerac rosé AOC,
Red wines: Bergerac rouge, Côtes de Bergerac rouge, Pécharmant and Montravel rouge AOCs
Dry white wines: Bergerac sec, Montravel AOCs
Semi-sweet white wines: Côtes de Bergerac blanc, Côtes de Montravel, Haut-Montravel, Rosette AOCs
Late Harvest/Botrytis – Monbazillac, Saussignac AOCs
Each AOC has its particular requirements concerning planting density of the vines, types of grape varieties planted, alcoholic content, blending specifications and a few other restrictions. The AOC is always identified on the wine label.
The Bergerac wine region is picturesque and characterized by hills and forests. In addition to wine grapes, the region produces plums, apples, walnuts and most recently sunflowers.
The wines of Bergerac have delighted people for centuries, from the Gauls, to the Romans, to the British and of course Cyrano de Bergerac.
These are wines with attitude and a history going back centuries. We invite you to come discover the wines and surround yourself with the history and charm of the region.
In addition to producing quality wines and other produce, the area has a rich and varied past. Gallo-Roman remains from the 1st Century A.D. have been discovered locally. The history of the area includes the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between the French and English regarding English claims to Aquitaine, the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots) in the 16th and 17th centuries and the World Wars I and II.
The village of Saussignac is a small commune located within the wine region of Bergerac in the southwest of France. This area is located within the department of Dordogne which lies within the bigger region of Aquitaine.
Saussignac is an appellation known for its production of sweet wines within the Bergerac wine region. Saussignac wines are complex and age-worthy, often associated with favors of acacia, peach and honeysuckle.