My introduction to wines from the Bergerac region was a lot less bumpy than that of Patricia Atkinson. I simply ordered one in a restaurant. She, on the other hand, found herself suddenly alone and having to make wine in order to generate an income for herself.
What unites the two stories is that both concern the same vineyard: Clos d’Yvigne, in Gageac-et-Rouillac, in the Dordogne.
Patricia moved to the south west of France from Britain with her husband in 1990. The pair intended to continue working as financial advisers while they renovated a ramshackle farmhouse they had bought.
The stock market crash brought that dream to an end – and saw Patricia’s husband return to Britain. With no work, Patricia turned to the small patches of vineyard that had come with the house as a source of income. However, without the funds to take on a trained winemaker, she was obliged to learn for herself on the job.
She did remarkably well at it too – creating award-running wines along the way. As she did so, her original four-hectare vineyard became a 21-hectare estate. She also came to star in a TV series and to publish a couple of books about her experience.
“She has now sold the estate to a co-operative, but they have kept her name and seem to doing rather well with it”
I was introduced to her Le Rouge et le Noir at the restaurant Les Remparts in Castillonnès on my very first trip to the area. I fell in love with its blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
Since then I’ve visited her estate in the ridge of hills to the south west of Bergerac. When I was in the area in the summer I also stocked up on the Le Prince blend of merlot and cabernet franc.
She has now sold the estate to a co-operative, but they have kept her name and seem to doing rather well with it. The sale doesn’t seem to have affected the quality of the wine being made.
Finding wines from the south west of France can be a challenge in France, let alone in Britain. However, M&S is the latest British supermarket to be offering Clos d’Yvigne wines – both Le Prince and Le Rouge et le Noir.