It’s mid-winter here and I am at my dining room table writing, enjoying the last few moments of golden sunlight, listening to a French cafe inspired playlist and sipping a delightful white wine from Bergerac, a small township in the Dordogne valley. I sat down to plan our May yoga retreat in France, but instead I sit and daydream of long lunches with new yoga friends, sipping rosé, soaking in the sun and basking in the post yoga glow during our next yoga retreat. Attending a yoga retreat in France? You should plan an extra day (or two) to explore the local vineyards and countryside.
For our retreat attendees we always give them an afternoon off to do as they please. If they’re like me and Toni they will head out into the countryside, camera in hand and explore local vineyards, lakes and orchards. There are so many vineyards and châteaux nearby it’s hard not to explore. May and June are the best months to explore southwest France because the temperature is comfortable, not too hot and not too cold. In the late spring the days are longer and if it rains it won’t rain all day. The countryside is in full bloom. The orchards, lilac and wisteria are lovely this time of year.
The Dordogne’s culinary heritage, vast fields, lazy river, and picturesque villages carved into limestone cliffs captivate. In the spring the hills are vibrant and green and the markets overflow with fresh seasonal produce like white asparagus and strawberries. The Dordogne region, Bergerac included, boasts delicious wines to suit most palates. Travelers will find plenty of interesting wine gems in the Bergerac area.
Bergerac alone has 13 different appellations. The area’s soil has excellent drainage provided by the Dordogne river that meanders through the region and excellent growing conditions. The region mostly produces hearty red wines made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blended with local varietals (they produce malbec too!). These tannic reds are perfect paired with the cuisine “du terroir” like foie gras, local pates, charcuterie, confit and red meats. They could also work well with a hearty vegetarian pasta or roasted vegetable dish.
The Bergerac region also produces some excellent drier white wines (with big fruit) and roses perfect for a relaxing afternoon or al fresco dinner. Château Monbazillac produces a sweet white, simply known as Monbazillac that is surprisingly good and perfect for dessert. Château Monbazillac makes a nice day trip from Château de Bardouly. You can take a peek around Château Monbazillac and it’s grounds, enjoy a wine tasting and winery tour. Château Monbazillac is symbolic of the Bergerac region. The Château has stood proudly since the end of the 16th century when the quality of its wines was well known far beyond the borders of Aquitaine. The château is exudes both renaissance and medieval architecture and just a few kilometers from Bergerac.
For the wine geeks, I mean oenophiles, here is a list of Bergerac appellations:
- Bergerac AOC: dry white wines, rosé wines and red wines. These are wines that can be enjoyed young (from two years old).
- Côtes de Bergerac AOC: mellow, soft red wines (reach their prime after several years’ storage in the wine cellar)
- Montravel AOC: dry white wines and red wines.
- Haut-Montravel AOC: sweet white wines.
- Côtes de Montravel AOC: sweet white wines.
- Monbazillac AOC: white dessert wines (storable for a long time)
- Pécharmant AOC: red wines. These are wines suitable for medium-term storage.
- Rosette AOC: sweet white wines. This appellation, which is the smallest within the wine-growing area, produces little-known wines that are medium-sweet to sweet.
- Saussignac AOC: white dessert wines (store medium to long-term)
Wine and Yoga Retreat in Southwest France
During our yoga retreat in France in May 2017 a local wine curator will join us at Château de Bardouly for an evening wine tasting event. We will enjoy the best Bergerac wines and learn about the history of the Dordogne wine culture and local vineyards.
Have you considered attending a yoga retreat… perhaps a luxury yoga retreat in a château??? They’re not all for hard core yogis… some retreat leaders like Toni and I like to “keep it real”. We provide an opportunity to enjoy a luxurious week away from all the daily commitments with a bit of yoga and meditation thrown in… and yes wine, friendship, and sunshine.