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Bulletin Detail
Date May 30, 2016 
Title A Bevy of Bergerac Beauties from Grande Maison 
Bulletin Untitled Page

Dear Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club Member:

We are delighted to bring back the outstanding wines from Domaine Grande Maison  located in the Bergerac wine region of south-western France.  We made an exhaustive study of the Bergerac area a couple of years ago with good friends and concluded that the wines from Grande Maison were the ones we enjoyed most, by far. Renowned for their delicious, sweet Monbazillac (particularly the Cuvée des Monstres), the winery also crafts some delightful reds and whites. This time we are offering two refreshing whites, three smashing reds and two splendid Monbazillacs. And, Benjamin Chabrol has pulled together a special mixed case just for us.


Likely doomed to be forever regarded as the poor cousin of Bordeaux, something the Bordelais have worked hard to perpetuate over the centuries, Bergerac is directly to the east of its much more famous and prosperous neighbour.  While their wines might not be as famous, the Bergerac countryside is much more appealing than that of Bordeaux.

The Bergerac area contains 13 Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for red, white (dry, medium-sweet and sweet), and rosé wines. However, most Bergeracois count just six – Monbazillac, Péchermant, Saussignac, Montravel, Bergerac and Côtes de Bergerac. Approximately 1,200 growers cultivate about 30,000 acres of vines in soils not all that dissimilar to those found in Bordeaux.  The Dordogne River for centuries provided transportation to Atlantic seaports on the workhorse ‘gabarres’ and provides the region with excellent drainage.

The red wines are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, sometimes supplemented by Côt or, less commonly, by Fer Servadou or Mérille. They are often dark in color, with full-bodied flavours. The white wines are mainly a blend of Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle, to which Ugni blanc, Ondenc and Chenin Blanc are sometimes added. These combinations lead to the creation of fruity, dry white wines that can be powerful and of medium-sweet or sweet wines that are aromatic and powerful.

Fifteen percent of the AOC wines produced are exported, principally to Great Britain, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (it was the Dutch who, since the Hundred Years War, stubbornly continued the region’s wine trade up until the Twentieth Century). 

Grande Maison

Grande Maison is comprised of twenty hectares of property, fourteen of which are planted with high quality vines (ten hectares are white - 60% Sémillon, 25% Sauvignon and 15% Muscadelle and four red - Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%). Situated just outside the village of Monbazillac (roughly, mon-baa-zee-ack – Hélène hates it when I do this!) the winery specializes in the sweet, botrytis-affected wines by that name and also makes very good whites and reds. It has been around a long, long time as the great house pictured to the left will attest – it was built at the end of the Thirteenth Century! In 1608, Henry IV made gift of the property to a lawyer in Bergerac, Charles de Livardie.

Your selfless sipper with Benjamin Chabrol
In 1990 the winery was acquired by Thierry Després, variously described as jovial, a fanatic and an individualist, but no one will dispute his passion and ability for wine making, particularly the nectar called Monbazillac. He replanted virtually all of the vines on the estate and achieved ‘organic’ status over twenty years ago, long before it became the popular thing to do.

In January, 2012 the Chabrol family who hail from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence decided that they wanted to get into the wine-making business. They wanted a top-rated property for sure, but of equally high importance they wanted a large house in which to live. Grande Maison, which was for sale, fit the bill perfectly. Together, Benjamin Chabrol and his father Jean-Louis have carried on Thierry Després’ commitment to make the highest possible quality of Bergerac wines. It is Benjamin along with two full-time employees who carry on the day-to-day operations of this very special winery.                                                                                 

The Wines of Grande Maison

Robert Parker in his in his ‘Wine Buyers Guide’ number 7 rated Domaine Grande Maison a five star winery - one of only four ‘Outstanding’ producers in the south-west of France.

We are now offering two whites, three reds and two succulent Monbazillac along with a mixed-case sampler that includes one of each of the featured wines (except the Cuvée des Monstres).  Each is certified organic (Ecocert), very, very well made and absolutely delicious. Each comes from a very good vintage. We are going to take your orders to the LCBO on Friday, July 10th.

2014 Cuvée Dianaïs (White) – Bergerac Sec – 13.5% Alc./Vol.  $21/$126 for 6
$20/$240 for 12
Crafted from 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sémillon and 5% Muscadelle,  this pale yellow refreshing white is harmonious, elegant and pleasantly crisp. It sees no oak. The yield is a low 40 hectolitres per Hectare and just 8,000 bottles were crafted.  The nose offers up complex aromas of citrus fruit (grapefruit and lemons) with delightful mineral notes. In the mouth it is beautifully balanced with tangy edges and is just plain delicious. It would go marvellously with smoked salmon, shellfish and roast chicken or served as a fabulous patio sipper. Be sure to serve well chilled. It is drinking delightfully well now and will evolve and keep nicely for at least another three years. Order your fresh, zesty Bergerac white now. 6-bottle case; 12-bottle case

2014 Cuvée La Tour (White) - Bergerac Sec – 13.5% Alc./Vol.  $28/$168 for 6
$27/$324 for 12
This is Grande Maison’s finest white and is made from their best Sauvignon Gris (40%), Sauvignon Blanc (40%), Sémillon (15%) and Muscadelle (15%). The yield is a low 30 hectolitres per hectare and only 3,000 bottles were produced. This wine is aged for 11 months in new French oak. It is a bright, clear yellow with green tints. The intense nose contains rich aromas of apricots, peaches, almonds and lemon zest. In the mouth it is full and fruity with a delicate silky texture and pleasant acidity and minerality; the finish is long and persistent – a simply delicious white. It too is drinking wonderfully now and will keep for at least another five years. It seems to have been made for fish in sauce, lobster, crab and shrimp dishes. Order your very special Bergerac white now. 6-bottle case; 12-bottle case

2015 Cuvée Opéra (Red) – Bergerac – 14.0% Alc./Vol.  $20/$120 for 6
$19/$228 for 12
Made completely from hand-picked Merlot, 70% of the wine rested in oak barrels for nine months. The yield was only forty hectolitres per hectare and 8,000 bottles were made. It is a bright ruby colour and presents fruity aromas of raspberries, strawberries, plums, exotic spices, cocoa and a trace of new leather. All of this carries through in the mouth to be joined by silky smooth, soft tannins, excellent depth and surprising length. This most pleasant sipper is just screaming out for the barbeque, pizza or a roast chicken.  Open and decant a couple of hours before serving. It will keep for another couple of years; but why wait? It tastes great right now. Order your Bergerac red charmer now. 6-bottle case; 12-bottle case

2012 Cuvée Harmonie (Red) – Côtes de Bergerac – 13.5% Alc./Vol. $23/$138 for 6
$22/$276 for 12
Known previously as Cuvée Antoinette, this truly yummy red is made from 90% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. This is very serious stuff – hand-picked fully ripened grapes, eighteen months of barrel aging and no filtering. The yield was 40 hectolitres per hectare and only 4,000 bottles made the final cut. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels, 70% new. It is a deep purple-red and shouts out aromas of strawberries, prunes, sour cherries, tobacco and a hint of rawhide. It is a medium-bodied wine with excellent balance, lovely tannins and a wonderful lingering finish. It is very elegant and reminds me of a good Graves. It will be a perfect match for game, roast beef and lamb. Right now it needs a least a couple of hours in a decanter before diving in and will keep happily for at least ten years. Order your terrific Bergerac red now. 6-bottle case; 12-bottle case

2010 Tête de Cuvée (Red) - Côtes de Bergerac – 13.0% Alc./Vol. $32/$192 for 6
$31/$372 for 12
This stunner is made from hand-picked Merlot (90%) and Cabernet Franc that comes from Benjamin’s finest parcel of land. It is really something! The yield was 35 hectares per hectolitre and a scant 2,500 bottles were made. A dark purple red, it rested in new oak for a year and a half and was not filtered before bottling. Aged for 18 months in new oak, it offers up powerful aromas of black currants, raspberries, ripe plums, exotic spices, cocoa, anise and leather. This is a very elegant medium-bodied wine, smooth and supple with rich tannins, great balance and a long, lingering aftertaste.  It will go brilliantly with grilled meats, medium cheese and most meat-based pasta dishes. It is starting to drink well now, but should be decanted for several hours before you drink it. It can be cellared for at least a decade. Order your case of Grande Maison’s best Bergerac red now. 6-bottle case; 12-bottle case

The Monbazillac from Grande Maison

These are the sweet wines for which Grande Maison is renowned. We are offering two, the 2011 Cuvée du Château and the 2005 Cuvée des  Monstres. Both are being offered in half bottles, twelve to the case (the winery only provides the half bottles in twelve-bottle cartons). Grande Maison has a good supply of other vintages and formats of their Monbazillac. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in something not on offer.

2011 Cuvée du Château (Sweet) – Monbazillac – 13.0% Alc./Vol.                                    $24/$288 for 12 half-bottles
The Monbazillac Cuvée du Château is Grande Maison’s premium cuvée that is exceeded only by their very rare Cuvée des Monstres which costs more than twice as much. This elegant, powerful bottle of succulent sweetness is created from 60% Sémillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Muscadelle from grapes that have been subjected to that Noble Rot – Botrytis Cinerea. The yield is just 10 to 12 hl/ha! The grapes of course are all hand-picked with several passes through the vineyards to collect only truly ripe grapes and it rests in new oak barrels for eighteen months. This is very, very serious stuff. It is a light amber colour and emits wondrous aromas of honey, apples, candied fruits, bees wax and a hint of smoke. In the mouth it is simply heavenly – rich, full, sweet (natch), elegant and pleasingly crisp. Drink this wine as an aperitif, with foie gras, spicy cooking, blue cheese or desserts with fruit. It is drinking well right now and will mature nicely for at least ten years. Marvellous stuff.  Order your most memorable Monbazillac now.

2005 Cuvée des Monstres (Sweet) – Monbazillac – 12.5% Alc./Vol.         $53/$636 for 12 half-bottles
Monbazillac simply doesn’t get any better than this. It was crafted from 60% Sémillon, 30% Muscadelle and 10% Sauvignon Blanc from vines 70 to 100 years old. The yield is a ridiculously low 4.5 hl/ha and but 700 bottles were made! It rested in new oak barrels for three years. A clear orange colour with brown tints, this treasure offers up an expressive nose of candied fruits, beeswax, citrus jellies and honey. In the mouth it is powerful, highly concentrated, wonderfully balanced and very long. Simply put, this is a sweet wine treasure not to be missed. It tastes great now and will continue to evolve and will be ideal to drink in about 30 years! It screams out for foie gras, stinky cheese, passion fruit sorbet and strawberry or apricot tarts.  Order your sensational sticky wine now.

THE Grande Maison Bergerac Sampler – 13.0 -14.5% Alc./Vol.                             $29/$174 six-bottle case
You get one bottle each of our featured Bergerac wines from Domaine Grande Maison: the 2014 Cuvée Dianaïs (White) – Bergerac Sec; the 2014 Cuvée La Tour (White) - Bergerac Sec; the 2015 Cuvée Opéra (Red) – Bergerac; the 2012 Cuvée Harmonie(Red) – Côtes de Bergerac; the 2010 Tête de Cuvée (Red) - Côtes de Bergerac and a full bottle (750 ml) of the wonderful 2011 Cuvée du Château (Sweet) – Monbazillac. So there you have it - six really interesting and delicious wines from the mysterious Bergerac region of south-western France. Give yourself a real treat and order your complete Bergerac treasure trove now.

The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

Know anyone who might enjoy some exciting wines from Bergerac? If you do, please pass this note on and invite them to join the tipplers of Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club.

Many thanks and cheers!

Jim, Hélène and Kate