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Patricia Atkinson's wines


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Numerous wine critics in the UK rave about them but anyone here got any first hand comments?  I see from her website that she produces red, white, rose and a dessert wine under the Clos d'Yvigne label.  And has anyone bought from her direct in France?  M

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I was fortunate enough to stay at one of Patricias converted farmhouses last August which are in her vineyard,it was very luxurious but unfortunately you pay dearly for this.I tasted all of her wines except the sweet Saussignac,and bought several cases of these wines.In fact I have just put a bottle of Princesse de Cleves in the fridge for our BBQ.

All of her wines are very good quality and are certainly at the top end for Bergerac ( this is also reflected in the price)She was completing a second book while we were there which should be due out shortly ?

She has a tasting room and prices are considerably cheaper than in the UK.I get the impression she is a very shrewd business woman and the book/s,holiday homes and wines appear to be a winning combination.She is one of the lucky few who appear to have made a real success of moving to France.

I'll be back this August but unfortunately not in one of Patricias houses.

Regards Tony

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"she is a very shrewd business woman and the book/s,holiday homes and wines appear to be a winning combination"

Funny you say that, Tony, I had the same thought when looking at her website this afternoon.  I'm sure her gites are lovely but there's not exactly a shortage of nice accommodation at all prices in this area, is there?  Thanks for the wine tips.  M

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Hi,

Patricia's a lovely lady. She had a devil of a job when she first came out here, with her husband falling very ill. Yes she's a shrewd business woman but I don't see that is being in any way reprehensible, so is another Bergerac friend of mine, Olivia Donnan of Ch Masburel, and plenty of others, no doubt.

As for her wines, they're in her mould, lovely too. There is no problem buying direct from her if she has any. I know that every time I've tried to get hold of her _magic_ Saussignac, she's been out of it, so I've just HAD to make do with that from Richard Doughty (Ch Richard), Gérard Cuisset (Ch Miaudoux) or one or two others making splendid wines in Saussignac and Razac de Saussignac.

I've been making something of a speciality of wines from Bergerac for 20 years, and I don't find Clos d'Yvigne wines overpriced for the quality or the care that goes into them, far from it. A similarly carefully made wine from Bordeaux would cost about 30% more from the grower (if they were to sell direct).

Cheap Bergerac wines are just that. Good ones such as are made by the many excellent growers there are well worth looking out for, while the best, from growers like Patricia, Luc de Conti, David Fourtout, Olivia Donnan and Christian Roche, are easily up to the standard of all but the 10 or so very best from Bordeaux. Just for the anecdote, the Monbazillac Cuvée Madame from Bruno Bilancini comfortably beat Ch Yquem at a Robert Parket blind tasting.

You've hit on a subject dear to my heart. Our day-to-day red is either our local Coteaux de Glanes for a light red, or for something more characterful, I have the bag-in-the-box from Roche at €2.50 a litre, and his white is my daily white too. These top growers are incapable of making bad wine!
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but I don't see that is being in any way reprehensible

Oh me neither, quite the contrary.  I read her book very quickly on a plane last year but remember this coming across clearly even there.  She had some excellent ideas very early on for marketing her wine.  No, what surprised me was the size of her operation, the diversity of the wines (but that's common in this area presumably?) and the other very sensible add on values such as the cottages. 

Cheap Bergerac wines are just that.

Absolutely, we've had so many disappointments and some of our mistakes weren't even that cheap.  Therefore very much appreciate your recommendations.  I confess I'm very partial to a glass of good dessert wine with my pudding, another of life's real pleasures, along with a glass or 3 of bubbly and a really good bottle of red!  Will certainly look out for Cuvee Madame.  Thanks again.

M

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Hi MJW (Mike, isn't it?)

You said:-

Will certainly look out for Cuvee Madame.  Thanks again.

Steady on!!! Cuvée Madame - is one heck of a price (500FF a half litre, when last I looked) Cheaper than Yquem, but only just! I have tasted it, against his "ordinary" cuvée (Ch Tirecul-la-Gravière) and feel that at around E25 or a bit more a 500 mls bottle, his normal cuvée is far better vfm, and in some respects a better wine, in that it's less "extreme". (I'm no particular fan of Robert Parker's taste).

I think my favourite stickies from the area are mainly from Saussignac. Without going into deep technicalities, they have just created new rules which will forbid chaptalisation of sweet wines (a technique I consider to be an obscenity for sweet wines and which frequently produces unbalanced parodies, IMO), and allow them to produce fully sweet wines without special derogation.

So Cuvée Richard from Ch Richard, Clos d'Yvigne, Ch Miaudoux, Ch La Maurigne are all in my cellar! From Monbazillac, my preference is for the Cuvée de l'Abbaye from the Domaine de l'Ancienne Cure (Roche), although there are several others, Petit Paris, and Clos des Verdots (Le Vin especially) for example.

A word of warning. Making a top sweet wine is a desperately labour intensive business. It is also extremely risky, (you need exactly the right conditions in the autumn) and difficult, as the vinification is very tetchy. It also produces tiny yields. Champagne houses may produce abt 90Hl/Ha, in Bergerac, dry reds usually are made at from 25Hl/Ha for the very best and most expensive to around 60Hl/Ha. A really good sweet wine will be produced at well under 10Hl/Ha. So don't begrudge the prices you need to pay for good examples. I think you should expect to pay over E12 a half litre for something decent, and I'd not turn a hair at E15.

Tony, you said.

Ian,thanks for the other recommendations I will try to check a few out on my next visit,I've been drinking Bergerac wines ever since my first visit 19 years ago and I revisit regularly to stock up.

You're welcome. Try especially to visit Luc de Conti as Ch Tour des Gendres (feel free to use my name). If he's not there, his sister Lucie, or wife Martine are usually on hand. D'you want my list of addresses etc? It's not exhaustive, but not bad.

 

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Making a top sweet wine is a desperately labour intensive business. It is also extremely risky, (you need exactly the right conditions in the autumn) and difficult, as the vinification is very tetchy. It also produces tiny yields.

And doesn't "noble rot" play an important role somewhere?  What you describe above fully explains the price, which we don't mind paying one bit as we generally only indulge in a dessert wine on high days and holidays. 

Margaret 

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Hi Margaret (oops sorry)

you said:-

And doesn't "noble rot" play an important role somewhere?  What you describe above fully explains the price, which we don't mind paying one bit as we generally only indulge in a dessert wine on high days and holidays.

Yes indeed. Without going into HUGE details, there are only a limited number of ways in which you can end up with a sweet wine - especially one which is stable. Most of these involve manipulating the grapes (using the word VERY loosely) between the time they get normally ripe and the time you press them.

These are:-

Drying (either on the vine - passerillage or off - vin paillé)

Allowing them to freeze on the vine,  and pressing frozen - germanic technique (Eiswein) now used in Canada - Icewine.

Allowing the grapes to get Noble rot - Pourriture Noble, Botrytis Cinerea - while still on the vine. When all goes well, the rot thrives on the grapes in the misty evenings, and then dries out in the hot autumn sun, rather than becoming boring old "grey mould" which destroys many a crop.

I was thinking of, and referring to this last whenI said that the right climatic conditions were required, although that's true of most of these. Passerillage cannot work in steady cold drizzle!

I remember once arriving (Patricia was busy, being interviewed on the phone by "Decanter") at Richard Doughty's place, just at the moment the pickers were unloading one "trie" of the vineyards. (A trie - french for  "sort" means they go through the vineyard with scissors, snipping off the grapes which are dried just right by the noble rot, and leaving the rest to get attacked). They looked REVOLTING. A sort of purply grey colour, with a cloud of spores hanging over them! Yeuch. The wine they made was sublime.

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Ian,Your list of addresses would be very much appreciated,most of the wines I have bought to date have been the more commercially available and well known producers.I will be down in August to stock up again.

Regards Tony

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Hi Tony,

You said

>Ian,Your list of addresses would be very much appreciated,>most of the wines I have bought to date have been the more >commercially available and well known producers.I will be >down in August to stock up again.

Sure. no problems. I've emailed.

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"Patricia was busy, being interviewed on the phone by "Decanter""

Goodness, there's posh!  

Re dessert wines from this part of the world.  We keep a wine diary, usually by removing labels and writing comments on the back.  It's fascinating, especially as we now have a collection going back 20 years.  I'm looking here at a reference for a bottle (50 cl) of Chateau Monbazillac '98 purchased earlier this year from, of all places, the very unromantic surroundings of le Clerc in St Foy la Grande.  We paid Euros 10 for it.  I'm sure I'm going to be accused, possibly rightly, of pretentious drivel but tasting notes include:  initially "smooth, almonds, honey, ripe melon not overwhelming, lingering sweetness, impressive", moving on 15 mins after opening to "a richer, bitter sweetness".  And this is what I remember most, it was quite different to our usual Sauternes or Beaumes de Venise, there was a distinctly sharper flavour too it with a slight hint of bitterness at the back of the throat.  Anyone else concur?  M

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Hi Margaret,

you said:-

Re dessert wines from this part of the world.  We keep a wine diary, usually by removing labels and writing comments on the back. 

What an interesting way of doing it. I tend to go to a lot of tastings and there I write more formal tasting notes. When I'm drinking, I tend now, just to drink, though when I was younger and learning, I made a point of writing some kind of note maybe a very brief one only, in a little notebook.

I'm looking here at a reference for a bottle (50 cl) of Chateau Monbazillac '98 purchased earlier this year from, of all places, the very unromantic surroundings of le Clerc in St Foy la Grande.  We paid Euros 10 for it.

A very good E Leclerc, I nearly always get my petrol there, when in the area. And don't knock them for wine. While they won't stock the best from the best producers, that's not their fault, but because the small producers refuse to sell to them, as they refuse to sell to any Grande Surface. They then say that the Grandes Surface never have any interesting wine!!

As for Ch Monbaz, they're not my fave, which isn't meant to be a criticism, really. At this level it's often a matter of a personal preference as to style. Just as I tend to prefer wines that Jancis likes, to Parker's choice.

I'm sure I'm going to be accused, possibly rightly, of pretentious drivel but tasting notes include:  initially "smooth, almonds, honey, ripe melon not overwhelming, lingering sweetness, impressive", moving on 15 mins after opening to "a richer, bitter sweetness". 

I don't find your comments in the least pretentious. What vocabulary CAN you use when describing these luscious wines? Sweet, sour, salt, bitter are the only tastes there are, and they don't really go far to help someone who's never tasted a wine to share your pleasure. The entire wine tasting vocabulary has to be by analogy, and with reference to our memory of other foodstuffs.

As for your notes, I'd say theyr'e about spot on, though the touch of bitterness as the wine opens out is a little worrying. I think that it's due to pressing the grapes too hard, and I find it too often in Sauternes nowadays. What I looked for in your notes was some comment on the sweet/acid/dfruit balance, which is what - for me - sorts out the sheep from the goats.

quite different to our usual Sauternes or Beaumes de Venise, there was a distinctly sharper flavour too it with a slight hint of bitterness at the back of the throat.  Anyone else concur?

Well now. Beaumes de Venise is entirely different of course. It's a vin "muté" made by adding alcohol to the fermenting must. It's also made from the muscat grape, so it's related - though far better - to the mass of Muscats from the Mediterranean coast from Greece to Portugal. Which one do you have? From the cave co-operative? The one with the rather knobbly ovalish bottle?   It's good, but if ever you can try Domaine Durban's offering. An order better IMO. All these muscats lack balancing acidity, although their better performance in this is one thing that makes Muscat de Beaumes de Venise the best of the muscats and the "DD" better from my point of view. Many Muscats, can be a bit cloying.

As for Sauternes, they vary so widely, (as do Monbazillacs for that matter), that it's hard to generalise. There's a universe of difference between the generic "Sauternes" in a poor year, from the typical Grande Surface, and Ch Suduiraut 1990. (There's a world of difference in the prices too). Your Ch Monbazillac is in the mould of the top Sauternes, in principle. It's interesting that you should have picked out those two elements of sharpness and bitterness. The bitterness is (IMO) a slight fault that I tend to find more in Sauternes than stickies from the Bergeracois, and is one of the reasons I'm not that emballé by the one you got. The slightly higher acidity (sharpness) is something I really like in these Bergerac wines, it's often caused by using a higher proportion of the Muscadelle grape, which although it does get attacked by pourriture noble, manages to retain a higher acidity than the Sémillon grape. Also, they often chaptalise less, and that, too, tends to keep a better balancing acidity.

Woops.. Sorry. I've written a blooming treatise! Next time you're going round the roundabout in front of Leclerc, head on towards Bergerac and turn right to Razac de Saussignac and pop in on my friends Gérard & Nathalie Cuisset at Ch Miaudoux. Try their Saussignac and see how it compares (you'll need to chat in french, with them). Give them my best. It's too long since last I saw them.

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