During October, here in the Dordogne department of France, we have enjoyed a warm Indian Summer. As the days are now becoming cooler and the grapes have been harvested, it is a perfect time to visit some of the numerous producers in this ancient and renowned wine production region.
This week, I took such a trip with three friends who know their way around a “degustation”. Our aim was to visit between 2 and 4 vineyards, within roughly half an hours drive. We headed west towards Saussignac, a commune between Bergerac and Bordeaux in the heart of the vineyards. Our first visit, which is the subject of this blog, was to Château Court les Muts, a family-run award-winning producer of white, red and rosé wines ranging from dry to sweet.
Upon arrival at the pretty shuttered stone property, we were warmly welcomed and invited into the tasting room, a long, cool barn furnished with period art, soft seating, artefacts and old wine presses. We headed for the tasting bar, where the main action takes place.
Glasses issued, we were led through the tasting by our host, a seasoned vigneron who enthusiastically shared her extensive knowledge of the area, the wines and the on-site processes involved in producing these wines.
For readers not familiar with wine tasting, there are three main stages: looking, smelling and tasting. At each stage, we shared our observations. While some characteristics of wines are factual – the grape variety, the age, the production method, etc., when it comes to smell and taste our findings were far more subjective. However, I was always thrilled when my naive nose or tastebuds identified a flavour or aroma shared by the more seasoned connoisseurs.
We tasted the whole range from Bergerac sec (white) through a rosé, a Bergerac Rouge, a Cotes de Bergerac Rouge, a Cotes de Bergerac Moelleux (semi-sweet white) and a Saussignac, a local dessert wine.
Proceedings stalled for a while when the well-named Des Pieds et des Mains was produced. This is a red wine made in the artisan tradition by foot pressing, hence only a limited quantity is produced. The wine was duly opened and one glass to my far left was poured, the three others remaining empty. Our host was in deep conversation with the one lucky recipient of the wine and I was becoming increasingly distressed that I may not ever be offered a tasting of this prized bottle. Thankfully, it did eventually arrive. Some things are worth the wait.
The wines range in price from €7 a bottle up to €32 for the artisan red. The tasting itself was free of charge.
Discussion then turned to what we would order, either for immediate consumption with the next fish dish, or for storage in the cellar to develop into future stars.