Arthur Sellers Bulletin Archive
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 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.
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.
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.
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