May 20, 2016

Bonjour Mes Amis,
One of the most beautiful regions in the south of France, the Dordogne, is known for its fine food, particularly foie gras, walnuts and truffles, and a bucolic landscape dotted with more than one thousand castles. Located in the area known as the Perigord, the Dordogne is a fascinating region with a lot to offer!

Cuisine of the Dordogne
A common dish in the Dordogne is Pommes Sarladaise, a mouthwatering dish of sliced potatoes cooked in garlic, parsley and duck fat. Pick up duck fat at Paris Grocery and whip up a batch of this delicious French comfort food.

Cabecou is a popular cheese of this region. The young goat cheese is typically wrapped in walnut leaves and is fresh and creamy with a slight piquant finish. Try our Picandou, an altered version of this cheese!

Monbazillac, the Sweet Wine of the Dordogne.
Monbazillac is a French dessert wine, largely unknown in the U.S. until recent times. Exporting no more than roughly 25 percent of its total output, mostly destined for Europe, and with less than seven percent coming to the United States, it stands to reason. Yet, Monbazillac is France’s largest late-harvest sweet wine area as defined by  acreage and production. Sauternes, France’s best-known late-harvest dessert wine, covers less acreage and has smaller production, but is far better known, and certainly more prestigious (Chateau d’Yquem, anyone?). While soils differ from those of the Sauternes region, Monbazillac is made from the same grapes as Sauternes: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. The grapes that go into making Monbazillac are grown about 60 miles to the east of the Sauternes region, in five communes clustered around the town of Bergerac. Like a good Sauternes, a fine Monbazillac can be laid down, becoming a deep gold, concentrated wine, but it tends to be somewhat less voluptuous, with a spicier, less floral nose. On the palate, Monbazillac delivers exotic touches of honeyed mango, quince, passion fruit and citrus, often with a distinctive nuttiness on the finish. Also, there’s a big difference in price. You can purchase an outstanding bottle of Monbazillac for what you’d pay for a middling bottle of Sauternes. Besides offering real drinking pleasure, the reasonable price also makes it an ideal choice for cooking; for poaching pears, or making a jelly to serve with a pâté. In the Dordogne and Bergerac regions of France, a glass of Monbazillac is likely to accompany the local foie gras; the  slight whiff of smokiness, the nutty aromas, and viscosity, make Monbazillac a perfect complement for foie gras. You should try some!

Chateau Tirecul La Gradiére     Mobazillac ‘Les Pins’ 2013  $19.99 (500ml)
Owned by Claudie and Bruno Bilancini since 1997, Chateau Tirecul la Graviere is recognized as the top property of the AOC. The fame of Chateau Tirecul la Graviere has spread far and wide over the last several years. Most notably, Robert Parker has awarded the property two 100 point scores, and compared its top wines with Sauterne’s Chateau d’Yquem. With good acidity and a solid backbone, these wines can last for decades under optimal storage conditions, a rarity for wines from this area of Southwest France. These wines are magical, defining examples of the best that Monbazillac can offer and more. The ‘Les Pins’ Monbazillac is the second label of this prestigious estate.

“Viscous and unctuous, showing flavors of honeycomb, mineral, tea and butter, with plenty of spice. The long finish echoes the flavors, with golden raisin and dried apricot notes.” Wine Advocate

Signeurs de Monbazillac Monbazillac 2007   $10.99 (375ml)
North of Gascony and east of Sauternes you can find the small appellation of Monbazillac. Like Sauternes, the wines produced here are sweet, botrytized wines that are incredibly balanced. The fungus, botrytis cinerea, that covers the grapes after they begin to ripen not only imparts lovely aromas, it preserves the natural acidity of the grapes even while the sugar content rises. Like clean honey, this blend of Sauvignon Blanc (30%), Semillon (60%), and Muscadelle (10%) has a vivid nose, with delicate floral notes, ripe apricot and honeysuckle. Surprisingly fresh, it is phenomenal with foie gras and blue cheese.

…and Two Bergerac Wines.

Chateau du Bloy Bergerac 2010  $13.99
Dating from the early twentieth century, Chateau du Bloy was sold to new owners in 2001. The new owners, M. Lambert and M. Lepoittevin-Dubost, are working to place Chateau du Bloy among the top producers in Bergerac. The vineyard is situated on a hillside overlooking the Dordogne river east of Castillon La Bataille. These hills are a continuation of those found in Saint Emilion and Cotes de Castillon. The vineyard has been farmed organically for several years and will be certified with the 2014 vintage.

The Bergerac is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. The wine is deeply colored, perfumed and marked by an abundance of black fruit flavors; the wine’s earthy and mineral rich flavors typify this appellation and distinguish it from its neighbor Bordeaux. The Chateau du Bloy Bergerac is aged in tank for one year prior to its release.

Chateau du Bloy Bergerac Rosé 2015  $14.99
“The Chateau du Bloy Rosé is produced 100% from Cabernet Franc. The grapes are harvested a few days ahead of those destined for red wine, giving the rosé a natural lightness both in alcohol, which is 12%, and in color. The grapes are pressed as soon as they enter the vat house and the wine stays on its lees until bottling. The wine is light and delicate but with an underlying structure that adds contour to the palate.” –Wine Traditions, importer notes.

Walnut Wine
A common aperitif you might find in the Dordogne is vin de noix, walnut wine. It is a sweet, dark wine that is made from immature green walnuts, red wine, and brandy. The walnuts are usually picked between June 24th and July 14th, Bastille Day. The longer the wine is left to sit in its container, the better! This aperitif is usually served before a meal, but it is also fantastic with Foie Gras.

Vin de Noix (Walnut Wine)
Recipe from Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves by Kimberley Lovato $29.95

Makes 8 Liters
40 young green walnuts, quartered
5 quarts (4.74 liters) dry red wine
2 pounds (1 kg) sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
4 cloves (optional)
1 vanilla bean, split in half (optional)
Zest of 1 small mandarin orange (optional)
1 quart (1 liter) brandy

Place the quartered walnuts in a large glass container. Add the red wine and sugar. If using nutmeg, clove, vanilla bean, and zest, add them here. Be careful not to add too much spice as you don’t want to overpower the wine’s flavor. Cover the container tightly and store in a cool dark room or cellar. After six weeks, strain the mixture and add the brandy. Pour into bottles and seal tightly. Let the wine rest for at least six months. Serve in small aperitif glasses before your Dordogne feast.

A Bientôt!
Kelsey & Manuel

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