The Noble Rot Effect in Bordeaux!

Got rained on today during my ride … which means more fungus on the grapes, which in turn makes them sweeter, more valuable and a perfect match for a chocolatey dessert.

It’s all due to the Botrytis cinereal, a fungus they call the “noble rot.” Ah, the noble rot … sort of sounds like a movie title or what’s going in in Washington, D.C.

I know what you’re thinking: “Steve, you’re such a wine expert!”

grapes1Well, not exactly … but I am here in Bordeaux and you do pick up a few things. For example: about 90 percent of the wine produced in Bordeaux is red.

The white stuff?

They do a big chunk of the 10 percent in the Sauternes region, which is where I rode today … in the rain, surrounded by plump white grapes and lots and lots of fungus. Somehow this particular fungus makes the grapes sweeter. Don’t worry, I took a really good shower when I got back to the hotel. And, I do feel a little sweeter than I did this morning.

My first stop was Chateau Yquem, which is probably the most famous producer of Sauterne. Wow, this place is impressive … and a little intimidating. Some of their wines sell for more than $1,000 a bottle.

I bought two (only kidding … I got a case!).

While I would have loved to sample a few Yquems, drinking wine while I ride makes me groggy and sleepy. Instead I took a few photos … and may have plucked a couple grapes off a vine and eaten them. They may not have been as sweet as I expected.



Then it was on to the town/village of Sauternes … where I think you need some sort of documentations to get a glass of wine at the official Office of Degustation.


On to Budos … where there are the ruins of a medieval castle surrounded by vineyards. The Chateau Budos dates back to the 1300s … and looks it. As you may have noticed if you’re a regular reader of this blog: I love ruins. I think it’s because you get to use your imagination to “see” what they looked like in their prime. Do you think there were vineyards – and fungus – here in the 1300s?



And then it began to rain … a mist at first, and then a steady drizzle. I found some cover in Illats … and waited it out. Unfortunately, the sky was dark and formidable in every direction for as far as the eye could see through my fogged-up sunglasses.

What to do?

I don’t mind riding in the rain. Once you’re wet, you’re wet and you can’t really get any wetter … and it’s not so bad. Decided to cut short my planned route and head back to Langon. And then, after about 5 Ks … the rain slowed and stopped. Was it enough moisture to make the fungus happy? I’m hoping 2018 is the best vintage ever.

Decided to keep riding and explore Sauternes. Rode back to Budos to stare at the old castle, then back to Sauternes to have a snack in the park, then over to the village of Bommes then back to Sauternes and … round and round.

Wound up riding 51 miles within the relatively small Sauternes region and now know this area as well as any American ever. If only I could find and afford a bottle of Chateau Yquem … it would be the perfect ending to a great day of riding.



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