From: Languedoc, France
Blend: Clairette and Terret Gris
Taste: Citrus, white peach, Asian pear, and subtle floral undertones meet a distinctly herbal side where aromas and flavors of cucumber, tomato leaf, and sweet basil cheerfully intermingle over a core of crisp minerality. Delicious!
Pairing: Vegetarians and pescatarians delight! This charming white wine will pair excellently with dishes like a chopped salad with chickpeas, vegetarian Niçoise salad (see below- it also includes possible add-ons for a pescatarian meal), cucumber, watermelon, and tomato salads done in a myriad of styles: with or without feta, with a Greek flair, pasta salads or light pastas with ricotta and lemon, as well as alongside fresh seafood served as ceviche or crudo, or prepared grilled, fried or baked. Make sure there are plenty of fresh or fried herbs and some citrus and you’ll be set!
Summer Vegetable Niçoise Salad
By David Tanis
The short story. This is from Domaine le Briseau’s small négociant business called Nana, Vins & Cie. The fruit for this cuvée, purchased before harvest (from 70-year-old grape vines and with a definite say on farming, etc.), came from the Languedoc and features two grape varietals not commonly seen here in the states: Clairette and Terret Gris.
The grapes. Clairette is a light-colored grape variety that grows throughout southern France. It was once widespread, but changing tastes and fashions since the 18th and 19th centuries have seen this grape replaced with higher-quality varieties. However, there are still a few Clairette strongholds in the Rhone Valley and in Languedoc, where it makes fresh, sparkling wines and light, easy-drinking still wines.
The grape is not particularly forgiving to winemakers, which is one of the main reasons for its decline in the 20th Century. Its tendency to oxidize quickly was once used to make maderized table wines and Vermouth, but a move away from this style of winemaking has seen this trait become a drawback in recent years. Clairette also has low acidity and high alcohol, neither of which is particularly suited to modern palates.
Happily, growers and vintners are able to counter these effects through early harvesting and careful vinification. When made well, varietal Clairette wines are light and fresh with flavors of apple, citrus and stonefruit. The variety is also commonly blended with Ugni Blanc, Terret Blanc and Grenache Blanc, to give wines with higher acidity.
Clairette, which means "light one" in French, provides an interesting example of the complexities surrounding the identification and naming of grape varieties. Several other varieties including Ugni Blanc and Bourboulenc have this somewhat generic name among their list of chief synonyms.
Terret Gris is a very high-yielding grape, producing up to 150hL per hectare – approximately three times the average yield of other French vines. Terret Gris, like its entire family, is inclined to color mutations, and grapes can vary in color from vintage to vintage.
In the past, Terret Gris was one of the Languedoc's most planted white varieties, used alongside Terret Blanc to make crisp, dry, white wines and also in the production of Vermouth. Demand for these styles has declined over the years and, thus, so too have plantings of Terret Gris.
Now, here’s the longer story on the winery, courtesy of Chris Kissack, the Wine Doctor.
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