Monbazillac is situated about 8 km (almost 5 miles) south of Bergerac, on north-facing hills that slope up from the river Dordogne.
Vines were first grown in the Monbazillac region in the 12th century by monks who founded the church of St. Martin on Mt. Bazillac. Though the church was destroyed (and rebuilt) several times in the centuries that followed, the wine-making continued until the phylloxera outbreak in the late 1800s.
Today’s vineyards span almost 3,600 hectares. The positioning of the vines near the river and tributaries, like the Gardonette, means that they are exposed to characteristic autumn morning mists which favour the development of Noble Rot. Also know as botrytis cinerea, this natural process increases the concentration of sugar in the grapes which in turn lends the region’s wines their distinctive sweetness, one mingled with aromas of fruit, honey, citrus and flowers.
Many producers are content to allow nature to work its magic in botyrizing the grapes – including Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle (which, despite its name, is unrelated to the Muscat family of grapes, and is used primarily in blends). These three grapes are jointly responsible for Bordeaux’s sweet and dry wines, though Muscadelle is without a doubt the key player in the Bergerac area.