Is This the Coolest White Wine in the West?
Take an obscure French grape and transport it to the up-and-coming Lazio region of Italy and wonderful things happen.
The thing with hipster wine—and I’m looking at you, Jura—is that most people don’t like it. The out-there flavour profiles of wines that sommeliers like to drink on their off-time are perfect when you spend an entire day tasting, spitting and thinking about wine, but most wine drinkers don’t want something that is challenging to their palate—they want something that is rewarding to their palate. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to uninteresting wine: occasionally, the two solitudes of cool and accessible overlap.
Lets start with the cool factor. This wine is made of petit manseng, a grape so obscure that it makes vermentino look like pinot grigio (wine nerd simile). It’s grown primarily in that wine hotbed of Gascony and also the noble Jurancon region—which, insanely, is not even close to the Jura wine region. The berries are small with thick skins and produce very low yields, which means it sucks to farm. Now, take that grape and plant it in Lazio, the region that encompasses Rome where they’ve been growing grapes for millennia, but somehow never become famous for it. This isn’t just an odd pairing, this is like why-is-Hugh Jackman-married-to-his-62-year-old-manager peculiar. So on the obscure/cool factor we’re at an 11 out of 10.
All of which is purely academic if it doesn’t taste good. This wine tastes like viognier took up mixed-martial arts while taking it’s masters in literature. It has an aggressive, deep yellow colour and a nose that is reminiscent of peach and fresh, waxy honeycomb. And it has body to spare—very muscular and solid but there’s still a note of acidity that keeps it together. It’s amazing and I can see it standing up to a vitello tonnato rather nicely but I have a sneaking suspicion that five to seven years in the cellar might turn this wine into something sublime. This is a wine worth seeking out.