Rare Native Wine Grapes of France

I’m a wine geek. I fully admit this and I’m actually quite proud of it. I love weird and wonderful grape varieties, especially Italian ones. There are however, a few from France that I was able to taste at Vinitaly this past April. These may be familiar grapes to some, but to most (even myself) I think I had heard of one previously. We were able to taste 5 native grapes (two versions of one grape~one young and an aged version) of both red and white grapes. An informative (& geeky) tasting to be sure! I’d be interested to know how many markets of the world (besides France) have any of these wines!

French rare

1. 2015 Giacchino Jacquère – from the Savoie region of France, a fact I didn’t know is Jacquerethat 60% of grapes grown in Savoie IS Jacquère. Pale lemon in colour with lovely honeysuckle, white blossom, citrus and pear notes on the nose. High plus plus laser like acidity on the palate with lots of citrus, green apple and pear notes. So mouth watering in fact, that some found the overly high acid painful, but I loved this wine!

2. 2014 Grisard Mondeuse Blanche – this grape is apparently an ancestor of Syrah, something I found interesting. Unlike the Jacquère, this wine was much rounder and full in the mouth, but lacked the acidity that in my mind, should have been higher. On the nose, lots of stone fruits, white flowers and nutmeg with pears and nutmeg on the palate with an unctuous texture. I found the finish much shorter than I would’ve liked and certainly shorter than the Jacquère. It was a favourite among many, likely due to the mouth feel. Some people are opposed to searingly high acid wines. I on the other hand, like that high, high mouth watering acidity!

3. 2014 Gonin Altesse – very much ‘Viognier-like’ in character with that fuller mouth feel, but with higher acidity and more herbaceous than floral on the nose. Lots of citrus, green apple and honey also on the nose. Green apples and lime steely minerality on the palate. There were even some light tannins on this wine and lower in alcohol at only 12.5%. The flavours are also likely due to fermentation in 100% stainless steel. No oak on this wine!

4. 2015 Saint Germain Persan – getting into the reds now, it was a great comparison of the Persan grape from two different producers in two different styles. This first Persan had some oak ageing on it and likely 5% of another grape added for complexity (we weren’t told what that grape was) Persan is compared to Grenache, but with high acidity. Very deep ruby, the nose stood out with strong spice notes of lavender and cardamom along with raspberries, pink pepper and violets. Medium plus saline acidity and high tannins, there was more spice, but of a sweeter nature on the palate, along with blueberries and raspberries. Interesting wine, it was likely my favourite red of the group!

5. 2014 Gonin Persan – unlike wine number four, this Persan is 100% of the grape and 100% fermented in stainless steel. It had more ‘hot’ alcohol on the nose that was a bit burning with aromas of green stalk, rhubarb, white pepper and red currants. High acidity, medium plus tannins  with more red currant, rhubarb, cranberries and pepper on the palate. I would’ve liked to have this with a slight chill on it and I’m sure the alcohol would’ve tempered right down. I’d like to get my hands on another bottle of this Persan to give it another taste and pair with some lighter foods!

6.  2003 Prieué St. Christophe Mondeuse Prestige – definitely a rare treat to taste an aged version of one of these rare grape varietals here. More garnet in colour showing that it was ageing, and you could certainly smell the ageing on the nose. The fruit was still there, albeit more ‘baked’ in nature with stewed prunes, dried cherries and cooked blueberries along with cinnamon and leather. A really lovely complex nose. Super massive high chalky tannins, medium acidity with more baked red fruits of cherries and blueberries with cinnamon and nutmeg spice on the palate. A shorter finish though which was slightly disappointing. Based on the tannin structure, this wine had more time left. We were told that the better vintages for this particular wine was 2009 and 2010.

Again, another great opportunity to take part in a fabulous tasting put on by the Vinitaly International Academy at Vinitaly 2016. For those of you that ever have a chance to take part in these tastings at these events, do so! They are well worth your time and effort! Salut!

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2 Responses to Rare Native Wine Grapes of France

  1. Oh, that is so cool! What a great experience! Are any of these imported at all to Canada?

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