There’s a lot of advice for writers out there: write what you know; write what you don’t know. My best bit of advice apart from don’t, get a job in the City or become a plumber instead, is develop your own prejudices. It’s very easy to borrow other people’s. When I became interested in wine, I would say that I didn’t like big Australian wines. I would parrot Roger Scruton’s line about Shiraz being a wine for hooligans. Another one was Bergerac. I went to stay with a friend of a friend once in the Dordgone and he wouldn’t touch the local wine. He dismissed it as rubbish. He drank good claret or Rhones. The only local wine he drank was Monbazillac. Almost without realising it, these thoughts would come into my head whenever I saw a Bergerac label. I would prejudge the wine by his opinions. In my view, Bergerac could either be divided into those that are trying to be St. Emilion, all lavish oak and big flavours, or hard and rustic.
I found a bottle of Château La Ferrière in my father’s garage last month. A 2011, he had no idea where he got it from. On googling it I notice that it was at one point stocked by Tesco’s. I couldn’t find much else about it. We were both very surprised how good it was. A little hard initially, but it opened up to reveal lots of perfume, a violet-like note than one finds in some Malbecs but also something a little earthy. It was like Cahors meets Graves. Very nice. It probably costs about £10, maybe less.
Looking back through my tasting notes in the last four years I was surprised to see that although I have tasted very few Bergeracs, the few I’ve tried, I’ve generally been positive about, even the tarty St. Emilion wannabes.
So it looks like Bergerac is off my prejudice list. I dropped by bigotry against muscular Australian reds years ago. So now I’m casting around for a new wine to dislike. What could it be? Ahhh, prosecco!