The 1994 Vendange Tardive possesses a fabulous, intense perfume of exotic fruits and honey, as well as amazing richness, purity, and a level of concentration and balance that must be tasted to be believed. Already approachable, it is capable of lasting for 10-20 years. Sadly, only 50 cases were produced for the world. Monbazillac is well-known in French history, but my experience in tasting through the appellation's wines has unearthed few gems. Leave it to Eric Solomon to discover this remarkable estate. The vineyard is planted with a high percentage of Muscadelle (50%), along with Semillon (45%), and Sauvignon (5%). There are two cuvees produced. The young vine cuvee (the vines are 45-years old) produced only 8.5 hectoliters per hectare in 1994 (less than one-quarter ton of fruit per acre). Additionally, these grapes are picked grape by grape (as they develop the noble rot), not by bunch. The proprietors, Claudia and Bruno Bilarcini, actually pass through the vineyard a minimum of four to five times a day. Given the fact that it is a manual harvest, the 1994 was harvested between October 20 and November 25. Fasten your seat belts, as these wines are remarkable.
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