San de Guilhem Cotes de Gascogne 2013
Alain Lalanne was possibly the first one in his region to plant Gros Manseng, in 1978, and he has continued to expand his plantings since then. In his view, the wines of his region, and French wines in general, are vins d'assemblage that owe their balance and complexity to the blending of multiple cépages. In the case of his Côtes de Gascogne blanc that means: Ugni Blanc, traditional to the region, picked late, from strong or gravelly soils to produce pale wines with delicate aromas that marry well with Colombard; Colombard, the oldest and noblest variety in the region, which produces wines with aromatic power and a roundness that is nicely balanced by the freshness of Ugni Blanc; and Gros Manseng, a late ripener which does best in cooler and lighter soils and in humid, not too hot, summers. As Lalanne puts it, "Gros Manseng does not accommodate hot summers, the smallest hailstone ruins it, and nevertheless, what class! Powerful in alcohol, strong in acidity, long in the mouth and with persistent aromatics, it transcends the Côtes de Gascogne." This addition balances the others with its alcohol, length, power and fat.
Lalanne’s grapes are machine-harvested, de-stemmed, pressed using an old-model continuous press set for an extremely slow speed of rotation that yields 70% clear juice (the jus de presse is not used— it is given to the government to fill the quota of wine destined for distillation for industrial purposes). The juice is cold-settled over 4-8 days; the fermentation lasts around 2 weeks. Besides the addition of Gros Manseng, there is one further trick of the trade that serves to compensate the wine's acidity: 6-7 grams/liter of residual sugar that usually remain in the finished wine.
Lalanne bottles his wine at the property with great care. There is an interesting evolution in the successive bottlings: the later ones will have a bit more Gros Manseng, because its aromatics have more longevity and evolve more than the other varieties. Thus, the early bottling of a vintage will show extremely fresh, bright fruit. The last bottlings will show an evolution towards increased suppleness, dried flowers, ripe and dried fruits, with hazelnut and citrus notes. With time, the evolution of the fruit, says Lalanne, is often stunning and complex.
Offering the perfect balance of quality and value, Southwest, France is a recognized appellation that encompasses all wine regions in France’s southwestern corner (except for Bordeaux and Cognac, which merit their very own). Two of the more famous subregions here are Cahors, known for its Malbec, and Madiran, home of the robust Tannat grape. Bordeaux Blends are also popular red wines of the Southwest; Petit Manseng is the regions’s star autochthonous white variety.
There are hundreds of white grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles.