The Wines of Monbazillac
Looking for something fun to do? I know, let’s go wine tasting!
Mark was not entirely enthusiastic about my idea, but he went along with it. We’ve been doing a lot of house visits this week, so it was time for a little tourism. We settled on the Chateau of Monbazillac and the surrounding vineyards just south of Bergerac. The Monbazillac region is know for it’s late harvest whites, which are produced when the ripe grapes are infected with a fungus called botrytis or “noble rot.” The fungus shrivels the grapes which, if picked at the right time, can produce a concentrated, honey-colored, sweet wine.
Built in the 16th Century, the chateau was purchased and restored in the mid-20th Century by a group of local wine growers. They formed a cooperative to produce wine in the regional style and maintain the chateau as part of France’s cultural heritage. Their descendants carry on the tradition today.
Inside the chateau, the rooms are sparsely decorated. There’s not a lot to see inside unless you’re interested in their exhibition on the protestant reformation.
I was more interested in the minimalist, “chateau chic” decorating style. Love this paint color with the heavy Périgord-style furniture and copper accents.
Thick, stone walls, large windows with views over the vineyard and chevron, parquet floors. It’s all part of the look!
One room featured this original terra cotta hex tile floor. How many years does it take to get this patina?
Downstairs, the original kitchen now houses a wine museum. The backlit racks of sweet, Monbazillac wines were a nice touch.
They had some old bottles of wine on display from the various vineyards in the area. I just randomly snapped the photo of this 1970 Chateau Haute-Fonrousse. Remember that name…
This is the original bread oven for the chateau. Looks like it could still work.
After touring the chateau, we walked around the grounds. It’s just as good looking from the back.
The view is not too bad either.
There’s a tasting room in the gift shop where you can sample some of the cooperative’s wines. I’m not sure if Mark approves of the “stemware.”
A short walk from the chateau, in the village of Monbazillac, there is a sort of “vintner’s collective” with many, many more producers on display. They have information on each of the producers and their contact information so you can make arrangements to taste at their “domaine” or winery.
One of the 29 members of the collective also comes in to pour for any visitors.
Today, we met the winemaker for Chateau Haute-Fonrousse! Remember the bottle in the wine museum? That vintage was made by his grandfather! How’s that for a coincidence?
Had to get a 3 pack! The “moelleux” is a nice off-dry white, perfect for an apéritif. The Monbazillac is a dessert wine for pairing with chocolate cake or blue cheese. I don’t think these will make it back to the States with us, but it was fun to learn about a wine region that you don’t see on every wine list back home.