Pecharmant is a little-known appellation within the Bergerac region of southwestern France. It gives its name to full-bodied red wines made from a blend of Merlot, Malbec (known locally as Cot) and Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. Pecharmant wines are usually considered a step up in quality from the rustic red wines of Bergerac, but so little is made that it is rarely seen outside of the Dordogne region.
The appellation covers four communes on a south-facing bank of hills just to the east of the city of Bergerac itself. The Dordogne river flows along the southern extremity of Pecharmant's permitted vineyard area, before flowing west to bisect the Bordeaux wine region. The northern and eastern borders of the appellation are bounded by forest and a small tributary of the Dordogne, the Caudeau river, flows through the center of the area.
The landscape has been formed by the movement of these rivers over time, and the soils found in this small appellation contribute to the particular character of the wines. Generally speaking, gravel and sand soils cover the south-facing slopes here, with a deeper layer of iron-rich clay known as tran. This soil promotes the development of both flavor and tannin in the grapes that, along with lower yield stipulations than in the Bergerac vineyards, results in rich, concentrated wines.
Pecharmant's vineyards are inland from the Gironde estuary and, while they share a similar Atlantic-influenced climate to Bordeaux, there are more continental influences at play. Summers are slightly warmer, winters are cooler, and a lower overall level of rainfall is concentrated in the winter and spring. The location of the vineyards on south-facing slopes ensures both good sunshine exposure and protection from cool northerly winds – both factors that optimize ripening.
Pecharmant AOC wines must by law be blends, and no single grape variety may exceed 65 percent of the finished wine. Furthermore, the wines must contain at least three of the stipulated grape varieties. These wines – essentially Bordeaux blends – tend to be dominated by Merlot in particular, although this varies from producer to producer.
The Pecharmant vineyard was first planted to vine as far back as the 11th Century and viticulture has continued almost uninterrupted since, save for the minor inconveniences of phylloxera and two World Wars. Pecharmant was granted appellation status in 1946, and today the 1100 acres (450ha) is home to around 50 producers.
The Pecharmant appellation overlaps slightly with the boundaries of the Rosette AOC, which specializes in sweet white wines.