Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Friend Bernard

I visited my friend Bernard the other day and was forced to try a couple of his wines.

The first was his 2007 AOC Bergerac Rosé. Of course, this wine was still very young at only a few months old but rosé is best drunk young.

This one was a very nice, well, rose colour and was very light on the palate although the label told me it was 13% alcohol.

I bought a few bottles to drink in the afternoons, sitting on the terrace, when the temperatures reach 35C (96F) and it's too hot to do anything else but have a chilled glass of rosé

The wine tasting went on with another 6 or 7 different bottles which I didn't sample as I was the driver!!! However, when Bernard produced a 1984 Monbazillac (pronounced "MON+BAZ+EE+YAC") desert wine I decided that, as I had only tasted the tiniest bit of rosé, I could also taste the Monbazillac.

Monbazillac is an Appelation covering about 2200 Hectares (5400 acres) south of Bergerac in South West France. From this tiny region about 6.5 million bottles of a sweet dessert wine are produced every year.

The New York Times recently rated the Monbazillac as one of the best dessert wines available and a "Must Buy" for it's wine collectors.

I love any Monbazillac but the opportunity to taste a 20 year old one doesn't come along that often so I allowed my self a half glass and reminded myself of the wonderful way that sweet wines develop over the years. This one reminded me of mango but with honey in there as well.

The colour was a rich golden. Monbazillac shows both the percentage alcohol on the label and the percentage sugar. So if you go to buy one, check the 2 figures - something like 14% + 8.5. They should add up to more than 21% and the greater the last figure the sweeter the wine. This is excellent wine to accompany very sweet desserts - or smooth rich pates like duck or goose.

Monbazillac is a very well kept secret with only about 20% being exported from France and most of that staying in Europe. I heard recently that exports to the USA had reached 5% of production but I don't know whether that is true.

If you get a chance, buy it and put it somewhere cool and dark. 24 year old Monbazillac is still quite young as the classic vintages will keep in excess of 60 years. However, please do remember to change the cork every 20 years!!



Maggie said...

Sounds great, we have some pretty good wine cellar shops here in Adelaide I"ll see if any of these wines are available.
We have fantastic South Australian wines so we buy local wines. It is Autumn here now so the vines in the Adelaide Hills are wonderful colours. Our McLaren Vale area is having its Sea and Vine festival next weekend. All the wineries provide tastings and appropriate seafood recipes that complement the wines. Cheers

ilex said...

"forced to try a couple of his wines"... I laughed out loud when I read that bit.

When are you writing that book again? It'll be bigger than "A Year in Provence", you know.

Kate said...

Now, Ian, these are 2 wines I could drink. I had forgotten about rosé - Roger and I got to know each other over the odd bottle of rosé... I must get some again. And that Monbazillac sounds smooth and rich - just like any good Frenchman! Sometimes its nice to have a change from limoncello. I love Butterscotch Schnapps and Baileys Irish Cream (half and half) shots too. Shame I don't like wines much, coming from our ideal wine-growing climate and all; like Maggie said.

ilex said...

In the days this photo has been posted, it haunts me- I think about the rakish Bernard especially when I'm gardening. Could there be a more classically Gallic picture in any blog on the web? I think not.