Marcel Kittel takes another stage in the 11th day of racing. Cyclists are making their way through the Le Tour de France with the half way point nearing! South west France is where they are today, bouncing between Bergerac, Bordeaux, and Cahors. On their way down to the finish line, they passed by the famous region of Monbazillac, seeing along the way some of the most famous noble rot (Botrytis cinerea) producing vines in the world, after Sauternes. The region of Monbazillac …is known for sweet wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle. The AOC was created in 1936 and consists of 2000 hectares of vines with around 200 growers/producers. This number was diminished greatly after the destructive invasion of phylloxera. Sauternes AOC, only 60 miles away, holds the reputation as being king of the noble rot, but the wines of Monbazillac come a close second. Both Sauternes and Monbazillac are labor intensive wine producing regions, as is with any area handling noble rot grapes. The process requires multiple pickings over a two week window to ensure the selection of the best grapes and in Monbazillac, all the harvests are done by hand, as mechanical harvesting was banned in the mid 1990s. The oceanic influences in Sauternes are funneled along the river valley, providing high levels of humidity in form of mist or dew. While the mist rests, the humidity increases the chance of noble rot in the grape bunches. It lingers until it is burned off in the afternoon sun. In Monbazillac, the positioning of the land traps the humidity along the river and stays longer, giving even more chance for the noble rot to develop. The increased humidity creates less concentrated wines than those of Sauternes, but what the wines lack in concentration, they make up with incredible aromatics of exotic fruits and nuts. The soils in Monbazillac are deep clay, molasse clay, and limestone, soils first tilled with vines by Monks from the Loire Valley in the 11th century. By 1550, the area was a flourishing wine producing region making money by selling their wines to the Dutch and Germans since the Bordeaux merchants refused to allow the “inferior” wines of Monbazillac to be sent through to England. We support the wines from this small region and hope you will, too.