From: Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, South West France
Blend: 70% Gros Manseng, 30% Petit Manseng
Taste: If you have heard of Pacherenc du Vic Bilh, you deserve a pat on the back. This gorgeous, rarely seen white wine from Madiran is one of France’s best kept secrets. In fact, Christine Dupuy produces just a few hundred cases per year. The wine is aged on its lees and develops additional complexity in French oak for 2 months before bottling. This dry white tastes of almonds and hazelnuts with pear skin, citrus, tangy apricot and the ethereal perfume of gardenias.
Pairing: Many foods beloved in the PNW will pair wonderfully well with this off-the-beaten-path gem of a white wine. Albacore tuna, white fish like cod or halibut served poached, grilled, fried, or roasted, Bayonne ham, scallops or prawns served with brown butter or as scampi, cod or crab cakes (check out the recipe below), roasted winter vegetables, mushroom dishes served over risotto, gnocchi, or pasta, and roasted poultry.
Thai Style Crab Cakes
By Mark Bittman
About the domaine. In 1992 when she was just 23, Christine Dupuy took over 6ha of family vineyards when her father died unexpectedly, becoming the youngest winemaker in the Madiran appellation. Located on the gently rolling hillsides of Maumusson, in very sticky heavy yellow clay with some pebbles and limestone, the domaine had been in the family’s hands since the French revolution.
Although she had just qualified as an oenologist, Christine had little practical experience, which she set out to gain by working stages at well-known local domaines Aydie, Capmartin and Chapelle l’Enclos, together with support and advice from Alain Brumont. Christine has come a long way since those early days and has gradually built up her holdings to current levels (with 15ha in Maumusson and 5ha in Saint-Lanne), all hand-harvested and tended organically since 2010 (certified since 2014).
She is very fortunate to be one of only two growers in the region to own a clutch of tannat vines dating back to the 1870 before phylloxera. As well as her main production of Madiran she also has 3ha of white grapes destined for Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh in dry and sweet forms.
When it comes to winemaking Christine has a sixth sense as to how to extract balanced, pure fruited wines in a region where burly oak licked monsters are too often the norm from the deep coloured, structured tannat grape. She carries out long élevages in cement (up to three years) for the basic cuvée to help soften up the tannic structure, and a year in recent oak barrels together with a year in cement for her fine Vieilles Vignes cuvée (a wine that will outlast many wines from the Médoc). Critics now justly acclaim Christine and she is one of the leading winemakers in Madiran.
About the region, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh.
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