WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

Postby Tim York » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:55 pm

The first is another illustration of the fine results now being achieved with white wine in Roussillon. As little as a generation ago, I would never have thought of ordering white from any of the French Mediterranean rim, except perhaps from Cassis and Ch.Simone, because the majority of them were so flabby.

The second, from Jurançon, confirms my 20 year old view that these are some of the finest whites in France, happily still reasonably priced. With Vouvray in disarray, I will go to them more often but that's no hardship :) . Both do very dry through to very sweet but the characters are quite different. (BTW there are ghastly floods at the moment in the Jurançon region but I guess that the vineyards are too high to be affected.)

Côtes du Roussillon Blanc Les Vieilles Vignes 2010 – Domaine Le Roc des Anges, Marjorie & Stéphane Gallet – Alc.12.5% - (€16), made from 70-100 year old vines of Grenache gris 90% and Macabeu 10%. This wine was delicious with a refreshing bouquet of white fruit and abundant minerals and an intense medium weight palate with a wonderful combination of fresh fruit, warm Mediterranean undertones, quite crisp acidity and lively minerals. From memory slightly deeper and more complex than a bottle a year ago. Excellent 17/20 QPR.

Jurançon sec Vitatge Vielh de Lapeyre 2007 – Clos Lapeyre, Larrieu – Alc.14% - (€14), made from Gros & Petit Manseng and Courbu organically grown. This is a lovely wine which seems to have hardly changed compared with my notes on a bottle two years ago. The nose was invigorating with complex notes including passion fruit, minerals and honey and could have presaged a sweeter wine. The long palate was dry, medium bodied with generosity and some roundness and gras and was infused with lively fruit, acacia hints, complex minerals and juicily crisp acidity. The high alcohol did not obtrude. It went very well with fish. Excellent 17/20+ QPR!!.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3892
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

Postby Jenise » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:29 pm

Tim, we see Jurancons here, but they tend to be quaffers. And from those, I'm familiar with the manseng grapes (though not what differences to expect from petite and gros--if you can expand on that, I would be appreciative.) Courbu is a new name to me, though. Any info on what it brings to the party?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26341
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

Postby Tim York » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:51 am

Jenise wrote:Tim, we see Jurancons here, but they tend to be quaffers. And from those, I'm familiar with the manseng grapes (though not what differences to expect from petite and gros--if you can expand on that, I would be appreciative.) Courbu is a new name to me, though. Any info on what it brings to the party?


Jenise, those are advanced geekery questions :!: I've had to go to reference books and do a bit of googling.

However, I remember being told by Marion Latrille, a grower at Château Jolys who presents her wines in Belgium, that they were increasing the proportion of Petit M against Gros M in order to make their wines more supple and less mineral. In my experience, though, I've never had to complain about lack of minerals and acidity in a Jurançon, even a sweet one. My searches confirm that Petit tends to have more sugar than the higher yielding Gros but both have high acidity and extremely thick skins which make them resistant to grey rot and therefore suitable for late harvesting. I will never forget the firm way that Marion’s father once told me that even the sweetest Jurançon never sees botrytis; they are always passerillés (translation anybody?). Incidentally the Latrilles’ top and sweetest cuvée is called Épiphanie in reference to the date around which its grapes are harvested.

Courbu is a much earlier maturing variety and is sensitive to fungal infections and grey rot. It is used to add crispness to offset the greater sugar content of the Mansengs. Many growers (including the Latrilles, I think) don’t use it.

I mentioned floods near Jurançon earlier. I have been watching some heart rending clips this morning of the devastation caused particularly at Lourdes, which will badly compromise the coming pilgrimage season. The river Gave de Pau, together with some tributaries, is bursting its banks along its course and the authorities are still unaware of the fate of some isolated communities :( .
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3892
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France

Re: WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

Postby Brian Gilp » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:19 am

When Petit Manseng was discovered to be a promising grape for Virginia and the rest of the mid-Atlantic region, it was for the reasons Tim cites; great rot resistance and high natural acidity. It also produces higher sugar levels and thanks to the rot resistance and acidity is great for sweet wines but is being made as sweet, semi-sweet, and even dry in the region. I find It best with about 1.5%RS.

As I understand it the major differences between the Gros And Petit are yield and perceived fruit quality. The Gros is higher yielding but generally considered to be an inferior grape. Back when most of the southern France vineyards where planted, the yield of the Gros was valued more. When the new world planting a started, the quality of the Petit was valued more.

I have only had one Gros that I recall so no real basis to compare to the Petit. The Petit that I have had from Virginia and Maryland seems to fall into the category of always tasty but never outstanding. But even here my sample size is limited to 2-3 vintages of 4-5 wineries. I have tried one Italian Petit that seemed to fit the same description of good not great.

I do think that Petit Manseng is one of the few grapes that the mid-Atlantic will eventually do well but its going to take some time to figure it out in the winery. In the field its almost indestructible so growing offers few problems. I am waiting for folks to really start experimenting as I am interested in both a skin fermented or sparkling Petit.
Brian Gilp
Wine guru
 
Posts: 1457
Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 6:50 pm

Re: WTN: Two excellent whites from southern France

Postby Tim York » Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:26 pm

Thanks, Brian, for that interesting account of experience with Manseng, mainly, Petit, in Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region.

When drinking Jurançon, I have not paid a lot of attention to the varietal proportions but now note that the excellent dry Cuvée Marie from Charles Hours is nearly 100% Gros with a nuage of Courbu and the Latrilles' Cuvée Épiphanie is 100% Gros, which is surprising in such a sweet category. On the other hand the new prestigious Les Jardins de Babylone, run by Benjamin Dagueneau, is planted 100% with Petit. Of course, if an estate is sitting on a lot of inherited Gros of an interesting age, it is not going to pull it up in a hurry, particularly if it prefers a tenser and more crisp style.

This cocktail of varieties is planted elsewhere in the French west Pyrenees foothills, notably at Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bihl (in effect white Madiran) and at Irrouléguy. At the Brumont estate of the former, Courbu is in the majority. However, I don't know those wines well enough to comment of its effect on the taste profile, even supposing I could untangle the varietal effect from terroir differences and producer style.
Tim York
Tim York
Wine guru
 
Posts: 3892
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm
Location: near Lisieux, France


Return to The Wine Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], Jenise, Robin Garr and 11 guests