Jurancon Sec, A New White Wine Experience

Jurancon Sec, A New White Wine Experience

Posted on Feb, 24. 2011 by

Categories: Wine

When I used to wholesale wine I worked with this producer and it was one of my favorites in our portfolio. The company I was with was small, however, and did not represent wines very well and so the producer pulled out of the relationship (shortly after I did). I could not blame him, Henri Ramonteu is the top dog in Jurancon a small growing region in the South West of France, and he is considered one the finest wine makers in that entire region to boot.

If you do not know Jurancon, it is a region known for making sweet white wines of the highest caliber, rivaling Sauternes. The primary grape used there is Petite Manseng, a grape that has found a growing following here in Virginia. The only other grape really used being Gros Manseng, a not as articulate sibling to the first. The sweet wines of Henri Ramonteu’s Domaine Cauhape are sublime. Truly there are not words to describe these masterpieces, they are an experience in perfection. His sweet wines go up in quality and articulation of style as they move along in the month that the grapes are harvested. He has an October wine, a November wine, a December wine which if I remember correctly is harvested on Christmas eve every year, and even a wine harvested in January, almost impossible to get -bringing the greatness of ice wines to the transcendence of Botrytised Sauternes. Next time you are in the mood for a great Sauternes, ask me to get you one of these babies, you will always thank me. Final note: in his book, Terry Theise referenced Jurancon as the wine that made him cry while eating alone in a public cafe.

Ramonteu is beyond Biodynamic. His vineyards are a church full of spiritual elevation and epiphany. The golden nectar he puts into his bottles make the metal itself seem base and useless as a trinket. Ok, so I love these wines.

But one can not drink sweet wine every day, one would not want the experience to become common. So Ramonteu has made two dry cuvees from his magical grapes that present a new pallate type to the market that I believe, if was more common, would be every bit as popular as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

I was delighted to see Ramonteu had found a new importer and was able to taste the unoaked Gros Manseng/Petite Manseng blend last week for the first time in years. The 2008 ‘Chantes des Vignes’ is beautiful, and I can not compare it to anything else for reference. It is a full bodied white with great acidity and compelling and wonderful fruit. Like Passion Fruit stifled by Gosseberries or something like that, a suggestion of tropics held in check by good honest, crisp green fruits. There is a cleanness that keeps the power refreshing and the acididty holds the fruit in check whilst the fruit gives a long delicious, drawn out landing to the finish.

I am delighted to have had so many artisanally well made wines to bring you latley. This is my Easter wine, for me it does everything you want at that time of year being the essence of Spring flavors. Most perfectly I would enjoy this wine in early May eating Virginia Ham while sitting in a room lavishly decorated in Chintz. But I will enjoy it almost just as much gulping it back on my front porch with Ham biscuits. Take note that Ham is the perfect pairing as far as I am concerned.

This is a delightful new White Wine experience. I recommend this wine for every palate, it is excellent on its own but does wonderfully with food.

2008 Domaine Cauhape ‘Chantes des Vignes’ Jurancon Sec
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $17.54 • Premier Cru: $18.56 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $28.50
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