For me, the best way to serve a good wine is with a great anecdote. If you get that right, you can even overlook some of the other etiquette surrounding wine. The temperature for serving and the shape of the glass are important, but a top tale makes for a terrific experience.
Dropping in at a vineyard is often a good way to do that. You can sample its wares then leave with a case of wine… and a head full of stories.
I’m looking forward to my return to south-western France next month so I can go back to Château Corbiac, in the Pécharmant area, just east of Bergerac. Last winter when we were there, we dropped in quite by chance.
Pécharmant remains largely an industry secret, probably because the area it covers is so small. This little-known appellation produces full-bodied red wines. Typically, they are a mixture of malbec, merlot and the two cabernets, franc and sauvignon.
They are considered the best wines from Bergerac, grown on a south-facing bank of hills with the Dordogne river at the southern boundary of the area.
We stopped in at the château quite by chance. The owner herself was there selling the wines directly to customers. She must have taken a shine to us, because she led us into her kitchen – her actual kitchen, not a tasting room – and talked us through a dégustation.
“The owner was there selling the wines directly. She led us into her kitchen and talked us through a dégustation”
For the full experience, we insisted that she talk to us in French and she got wrapped up in her stories. Lord Baden Powell was a friend of her father’s and had a scout hut built in the grounds of the château. The result looked more like a chapel than the kind of Nissen hut we might imagine.
We came away with a case each of her 2008 vintage – which has scored 91/100 in critics’ tastings.
We enjoyed them heartily, so we’ll be sure to pop back and get some more while we’re there. With any luck, we’ll get more stories too.