Hundred kilometers East of Bordeaux, states the Pécharmant vineyard considered as the best of the Périgord wines or Pomerol of Bergerac…
During the course of time Corbiac in the heart of Puycharman...
The first traces of life and activity during prehistoric times
At the superior Perigordien 20.000 BC at the time of the prehistoric paintings of Lascaux when Homo Sapiens Sapiens discovered the needle in chards of bone and no longer draped himself in whole animal skins , but dressed in sewn clothes, the site at Corbiac was already inhabited. Archaeological digs run by Bordeaux University during the 1960’s under the lawns of the chateau discovered workshops of silex cutters and flint scrapers known as the scrapers of Corbiac. Which today are exhibited at the Musée National of Prehistory at Les Eyzies.
From the view of the ford on the Caudeau stream and from the hillside from where the vision at the top is disengaged at a distance of thirty kilometers all around on the Dordogne valley, Corbiac being nearby these veins of silex and hot springs constitutes a dam on the valley from the north before being able to cross the Dordogne river at the Bergerac ford.
The Castrum vineyards of Bergerac and the Priory of Saint Martin
Born during the turbulence of the Middle ages, Bergerac takes its feudal administrative origins of the country from 778 to 838 by Wilbur the first count of Périgord, nominated by Charlemagne. As to the vineyard, it first appeared in the XI century according to two movements ; a seigneurial movement depending on the Castrum confided by the count of Périgord, to the safeguard of the provost surveying the passage of the Bergerac ford, and an ecclesiastical movement in relation to the priory of Saint Martin, founded in 1080 by the abbot of Saint Florent of Saumur. This double vineyard developed towards the north of the city to constitute the first centre of Bergerac vineyards.
During the XIV century, this privileged ancient vineyard was delimited with precision and specified by the word “vinée” (harvest of wine) translation of the right accorded in 1322 by Renaud de Pons, lord of Bergerac, at the council of the inhabitants of the city, to place their particular mark upon barrels of wine leaving their territory: on one side the foot of a griffon and on the other a tower.
The concession was confirmed in 1326 in the Statutes and Customs accorded by Jeanne de Pons, lady of Bergerac and her husband Archambault III, count of Périgord. The first vinée extended in a dense fashion on the low hills near to the town, that is to say to the north and easten.
Therefore one vineyard spread out to the north from the priory of Saint Martin, sorrounded by the roads to Brive and Sarlat. Towards the east a zone was entirely consacrated to wine growing. Corbiac which was in the centre of Saint Martin, Creysse and Lembras situated in the heart of this area which was already renowned for its wine production the hillside being known as “Puycharman” then “Pech-Charmant” and finally by frenchifiying to Pécharmant.
Corbiac derives its name from the Latin etymology corvus ( or occitan corb) name of crow and the suffix “ac” (from acum) expresses the idea of propriety. The name was no doubt given in reference to the presence of crows being sited at the gates of Bergerac.
From the house of Albret to Gascq: Corbiac, its grapevines and the Iron wine
Shaken up by the turbulence of the hundred years war, the Bergerac vineyards which in 1495 had stretched southwards to Monbazillac, naturally takes place amongst the exported wines towards the British isles because it was allied to the British crown by the house of Albret.
At the same time, during the following centuries, Dutch buyers found quality wines at Bergerac which were more competitive and had a better image than those of Bordeaux than before, and which as well by royal privilege had the right to be sold before Christmas. The reds of Bergerac came mostly from the red Côt with a green stem known for its quality and closeness to Malbec. Other plants such as Carmenet, the Verdot, the Picpoule, the Périgord and the Navarre could be associated. The “fer” or “fert” grape specially allied to the Bergerac region, giving over to the production of a wine called “de fer” (iron wine) at Pécharmant. This area produced a very black bodied wine.
In 1587 the vicissitude of a branch of the Albret family permitted to Guillaume de Gascq, equerry and general treasurer of the finance office of Guyenne, then lawyer to Henry IV at the siege of Bazas, to acquire some estates from the county of Périgord. The Gascq family possessed thus the Chateaux of Portets (Graves), La Louvière (Pessac-Léognan), or even the future chateau Palmer (Margaux), and Corbiac in this case.
Thus, at the end of the XVI century, Corbiac, which was characterised by its warm Huguenot architecture, was given as dowry at the time of the alliance of the grandchildren of Guillaume De Gascq, with that of François Faure, co-lord of Lussas and of Fontroubade, protestant gentleman in the company of the King of Navarre and governor of Bergerac, of which the heirs carry the title of seigneur de Corbiac.
Besides we know that François Faure de Lussas, seigneur de la Ribeyrie, de Grateloup, de Corbiac, get married in 1571, to Nolette de La Rivière (de La Ribeyrie in old French spoken), demoiselle de Casteignie, sister of Savinien Ist de Cyrano, seigneur de La Rivière, grand-father of the famous poet, philosopher, swordsman: Savinien IInd de Cyrano de Bergerac, who has been immortalized in 1897 by the extraordinary heroic comedy writen in verse by Edmond Rostand : Cyrano de Bergerac…
Since the end of the middle ages the domain of Corbiac according to a successorial model to the last survivor, had therefore only 19 succeeding owners following in line from their parents. During these nearly five centuries followed the Faure de Lussac, Villepontoux de Jaure, Sorbier de Jaure and Durand de Corbiac up until the present day.
At the end of the XVII century the land of the Villepontoux-Sorbier totalised 260 hectares of smallholdings and vineyards. The care given to the vines is witnessed by the books of accounts held over the years by, for example Anne de Villepontoux who on the 21st July 1754, wrote on the account of Michelou of Puycharman: “jay donné six livres à Michelou pour donner à son valet“.
The attention given to the domain of Corbiac and its surrounding vineyard follows on generation after generation, as in 1864, the Prize of Honors at the Regional Agricultural Show attributed by Napoléon III to our ancestor Paul Durand de Corbiac for the totality of his modernisation to the property of Corbiac,
or in 1903, when the publishers Féret discribed the 40 hectares of Adrien Durand de Corbiac at Pécharmant or Pech-Charmant, as being one of the first to have reconstituted american plants and grafts from choice grapes after the ravages caused by the terrible phylloxera disease, affecting the French vines at the end of the XIX century.
More than ever this marked attention, of an unusual historic, applies today in turning Corbiac towards the future in the continuity and expression of a singular mark, revendicating already its exceptional character during the early years of the 20th century and issuing from the original lands of the Bergerac vineyards in order to delight and satisfy specialist and gastronomic palates.
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