Every time a wine from Gascony, France comes across the tasting table, Disney's Beauty and the Beast comes to mind. I have no idea why. I've never even been to Gascony! Perhaps there is something about the history of that region (think Vikings, Duchies, Joan of Arc and the 100 Years War) that transports me to Belle's little village. Of course, it doesn't help this part of the world is most famous for one of my favorite evening night caps: Armanac. I can just see myself sitting in the Beast's big leather armchair enjoying a little sippy sip before turning in.... One of the still wines I most appreciate from that area - a Peter Weygandt selection - is quaint like Belle's village, too. It is so in all the best senses of the word. Indeed, it is "skillfully" crafted, and delightfully "unusual in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way". It has easy-quaffing, mouth-filling, zippy pizazz.
What is this wine I speak of? Domaine de Cassagnoles' Gros Manseng. Gros Manseng is a white varietal grown exclusively in the southwest of France. As hinted above, it is better known for its role in the creation of Armagnac. But it is not often a major player in the world of still wines - or at least not in terms of export, I imagine. (If my suspicion is correct, then kudos to Mr. Weygandt. He's got something special on his hands!)
The Domain Cassagnoles Gros Manseng is a delicious, paradox white. It strikes my fancy in the same way that some lesser known (or appreciated?) Italian whites appeal to me (e.g. Friulano, from Italy). It is a bit on the fuller, richer-textured side of the equation, but comes no where close to being a good alternative to a full bodied, oaked Chardonnay. (Egad!) It has too much lift in the mid palate and the fruit flavors are distinct. They are reminiscent of just-ripe, white peaches, quince and apricots - fruit-forward, but not juices-running-down-your-arm sweet. The citrus component is present just enough to provide that levity and zip, without being a grapefruit or lime-bomb of acidity often found in Sauvignon Blanc. A touch of minerality gives it a sense of place; you know it must be an Old World offering. This wine is like a little girl who's a bit more "grown up" than her peers - powerful and opinionated, but still having a welcome, youthful charm.
Ah... Much like Belle, no?
If you haven't sought out Gros Manseng, please do! It is such a versatile white ready for quaffing or pairing with fresh, spring/summer dishes.
Are you familiar with (still) Gros Manseng? How about Armagnac?