The Montravel region is made up of three appellations: Montravel AOC, Haut-Montravel AOC, and Côtes de Montravel AOC. The latter two are for sweet wines, while Montravel proper is for dry red and white wines. Located in the Lamothe-Montravel sector of France, in the western part of the Bergerac division, Montravel is close to Bordeaux geographically. The wines are very similar to those of Bergerac.
This appellation was created in 1937 for white wines only, but in 2001 regulators decided to allow reds. The vast majority of expert-rated wines are still white, but the reds are quickly gaining in popularity.
Climate and Viticulture
Like so many other regions in the Southwest, the Montravel climate is primarily influenced by the Dordogne river. The gravel banks of the river are often where the best vineyards are located; although few Sauternes styles are made here, they probably could be because of the presence of the river and the Bordeaux-like combination of limestone and gravel in the soil.
In the sweet wines, Bordeaux grapes Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle are the primary grapes. The vast majority of dry whites are made up solely of Sauvignon Blanc. In general Merlot does the best here out of all the red grapes, and is required to make up at least 50% of the red blends. However, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec are also permitted.
The general number of producers here is fairly small. We list three very good ones. Also notable is Château Calabre, which makes a simple dry white Sauvignon Blanc in Montravel that is one of the few non-rotgut wines in the world purchasable for under $5.
- Château du Bloy: The white wine here is heavily Sauvignon Blanc-based, with grassy, tangy aromas of green fruit. The reds are also interesting.
- Château Moulin-Caresse: Moulin-Caresse's white Sauvignon is the main wine here; entitled Les Premières Vendanges, this wine has rich Sauvignon aromas of green apple and gooseberry. Cent Pour 100 is one of the few dry Muscadelles in the world; it attains honeyed, rich flavors without being sweet. The red version of the Cent Pour 100 has black fruit flavors and good intensity. The mellow Haut-Montravel sweet example is called Magie Autumne, and is hard to find but very good.
- Château Puy-Servain: Puy-Servain's red wines, primarily made from Merlot, are very good: both the Vieilles Vignes and the Terrement lead their appellation. The Songe is 90% Merlot and is a smooth, dark example of the grape's capabilities. The dry white is straightforward, inexpensive Sauvignon, while the sweet Haut-Montravel is 100% Sémillon.
The region of Montravel divides into three officially designated appellations. All of them use the exact same geographic area, but make different styles of wine.
- Montravel AOC: The majority of Montravel wines fall under this label. Originally this was for white wines only, but in 2001 it was expanded to include Merlot-based reds. Most of the white wines are dry, tangy Sauvignon Blanc, while the reds are balanced, flavorful Merlot.
- Côtes de Montravel AOC: This appellation is for semi-sweet wines, but this style is falling out of favor and as a result few of these wines are exported.
- Haut-Montravel AOC: Montravel's Sauternes-like styles fall under this appellation. Rich, honeyed and floral, these wines often have delicious flavors. The best wines are botrytized, but most are not.