If you're exploring the Bergerac wine region be sure to understand the different appellations first.
Bergerac consists of 13 appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) or appellation d'origine protégée (AOP), the new European regulation.
To use an appellation category on a wine label a wine maker must follow a number of rules. The main ones are the grape variety; the quantity of wine produced and most importantly the location of the vines and where the vinification takes place.
There are many more rules and the more specific the appellation the stricter they are. The 'easy' way to remember is 1, 2, 4 and 6!
1 - Rosé
- Bergerac Rosé - this wine can be produced in the whole Bergerac area and if the residual sugar content is more than 4 grams per litre it must say 'demi-sec' on the label
2 - Whites
- Bergerac Sec - this wine can be produced in the whole Bergerac area
- Montravel Blanc - this is a dry white but only produced in the Montravel area. The soil in Montravel is different and therefore justifies its own label
4 - Reds
- Bergerac Rouge - this can be produced in the whole Bergerac area
- Côte de Bergerac Rouge - the quality is higher than the basic Bergerac and the wine must have the potential for aging longer
- Pécharmant - one of the region's appellation that defines high quality red wine. This appellation has stricter rules than most
- Montravel Rouge - this appellation was only created in 2001 and even stricter rules than Pécharmant! It boarders Saint Emilion and in a blind wine tasting Montravel beat its world famous neighbour!
6 - Sweet
- Côte de Bergerac Blanc (slightly sweet) - can be produced in the whole Bergerac area and must contain more than 4 grams of sugar per litre. In most cases the label will refer to Moelleux meaning slightly sweet
- Rosette (medium sweet) - this wine must be produced in the Rosette appellation which is in the north of Bergerac. Sugar content must be between 25-51 grams per litre
- Côte de Montravel (medium sweet) - produced in a specific area within Montravel this wine must have between 25-55 grams of sugar per litre
- Haut Montravel (sweet) - produced in an even smaller area than the Côte de Montravel, this has more than 85 grams of sugar per litre
- Saussignac (sweet) - West of Monbazillac, this wine must contain more than 68 grams of sugar per litre
- Monbazillac (sweet) - located south of Bergerac and the wine must contain more than 45 grams of sugar per litre or more than 85 grams if 'Sélection de Grains Nobles' is mentioned on the label.
Now, back to the rules. If you follow the 'basic' Bergerac wine rules then you can put 'Bergerac' on your wine label (this applies in any region and every country). However, if you want to put a specific appellation on your label then you must follow even stricter rules. So, for the wine novices, if a wine maker in Saussignac produces a dry white wine it can only be labelled as Bergerac Sec. When he produces a sweet white he can then use the Saussignac label....if he followed the rules!