Discovering Chateau Millet Lartigue

The Chateau Millet Lartigue 2008 (£7.90) is one of my most recent discoveries and is a lovely wine.

The chateau is owned by Jean-François Eymery who is also a wine consultant at the Dordogne Chamber of Agriculture’s Vine Academy and is involved in conservation work as well as the experimental vineyard at Monbazillac.

Millet Lartigue is a small family property with just under 25 acres of vines grown on silt and gravel soils.

Based in Gardonne, Jean-François’ vines are grown around the region of AOC Sainte Foy Bordeaux which borders the Dordogne, close to the AOC of Bergerac.

The Gardonnette, a small tributary of the River Dordogne past the town. Wine making here dates back to Roman times and Gardonne itself was known as Villa Gardonna and coins and medals stamped with the heads of Emperors Teriens and Galiens have been found around the church.

It’s thought that Gardonne takes its name from the Latin word garda meaning wardship or guardianship.

In the Middle Ages Gardonne was important as the balliage or bailiwick (the administrative centre of royal justice).

During the Hundred Years War the English captured and fortified the château (built in the 11th century) making it the most impregnable fortress of the county.

In 1385, Pierre de Mornay, Seneschal of Périgord, helped by the people of Bergerac, took the fortress back from the enemy by orders of the Governor and his counsels. The château was destroyed in 1386 and the townsfolk were forbidden to rebuild it.

The area is known as the Gate of Périgord and Gardonne borders the Perigord Pourpre (the Purple Perigord – land of the vineyards). The department of the Dordogne is divided into the 4 ancient Perigord areas which reflect its bounty:

Perigord Noir (The Black Perigord) is a land named after the black oak trees and forests around Sarlat, a town developed around its large Benedictine abbey which dates from the 9th century.

Perigord Blanc (The White Perigord) is the area between La Vesone and Perigueux named after its chalky lime stone soil and its white stone architecture.

Perigord Vert (The Green Perigord) is named after the pine tree forests and rolling meadows and is well known for its’ agriculture which is centred around Nontron.

Vineyards are small in size and low in production, but they do produce some lovely wines that are bargains. Jean-François adopts a simple and transparent approach to his wine making and the result is a fruity, soft, well balanced, easy drinking wine – the perfect representation of a blended red Bordeaux.

Millet Lartigue is a medium bodied claret with a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. The wine has notes of black cherries, blackcurrants, vanilla, dried herbs and cedar.

It will pair well with duck, game, goose, pork and beef, Asian cuisine – especially dishes prepared with soy, black bean and oyster sauce.

I have found a recipe that would be great with this wine – it’s a warm salad and is perfect for summer!

Duck Breast Salad from Perigord

2 duck breasts
4 pears
300g mixed green salad
80g walnuts
2 tablespoons parsley
1 tablespoon Xérès (Sherry) vinegar
Walnut oil
1 tablespoon runny honey
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt, pepper, crumbled goats cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of walnut oil in a frying pan. Cook the duck fillets – skin-side down – for 2 minutes over a high flame. Lower the heat, turn the fillets over, put a lid on the frying pan and leave to cook for a further 8 minutes.

Remove the fillets, wrap in silver foil and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Peel and quarter the peaches. Mix a little salt and pepper, the honey, vinegar and sunflower oil in a small bowl. Arrange the green salad, walnuts, pears and goats cheese in a salad bowl. Dress.

Remove the duck fillets from the silver foil, cut into very thin slices, arrange on the salad and serve immediately.

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