ROYAL WINE WILL DELIGHT
Juracon wine is absolutely bloody delicious - and that’s a fact
Kings have been anointed in it and wine scribes have been in love with it – but Australia has had limited exposure to the gobsmacking delights of the wines of France’s Jurançon region. But the time is ripe now!
Jurançon is in the picturesque South West of France (Sud-ouest in French), a region known as ‘France’s Hidden Corner’. Yet it is France’s 5th largest wine growing region of some 120,000 hectares, twice the size of Burgundy for instance. Despite its large size, the area is the least populated part of the country with only 10 residents per square mile.
Jurançon is below the Armagnac region and near the Pyrenees mountains with the Atlantic Ocean 96km to the west. It enjoys the benefits of altitude, plenty of sunlight, a southerly
This beautiful, light golden wine exhibits luscious complex fruit, balance and length that is not too sweet on the finish. It is not botrytised but instead the bunches are left to dry on the vines concentrating an intensity of flavour. And it is a bargain – a brilliant value wine.
aspect and the cooling influence of the ocean. Wine and winemaking are a way of life there.
Jurançon’s mostly unchartered grape varieties are at the heart of re-discovered wines that are increasingly taking their rightful place in the landscape of quality French wines. Among these indigenous varietals, gros manseng and petit manseng produce thought-provoking dry white and arresting sweet wines. Petit Manseng has the unusual capacity to develop very high levels of sugar when ripening without losing its refreshing acidity, making a luscious and perfumed dessert wine that has no unctuous, cloying finish on the palate.
Jurançon wine is understood to be the first to obtain the “appellation contrôlée” as a guarantee of its quality, granted by the Parliament of Navarre in the 14th century, centuries before France’s current appellation system was enacted in the 1930s. In 1553, the future King, Henry IV, was baptised with a drop of Jurançon wine. The golden wine was then hailed as the "wine of the King and the King of wines". But over the centuries the unique wines of Jurançon were eclipse by other French the regions and their grapes. Today the re-emergence of these unique wines are being seen on astute wine lists around the world.
Domain Bellegarde Cuvée Tradition, Jurançon Moelleux, now available in Australia is both a exemplary example of the style. (Moelleux means sweet but unlike many dessert wines from Australia this wine has a drier finish).
Think apricot, honey, honeysuckle lemon curd, orange marmalade, roasted almonds and white peach aroma and flavour qualities, kissed with a touch of steely minerality to keep you coming back for more.
Craig Underhill, of Australia’s premium Jurançon wine importers Discovervin, reckons the sweet wines of Jurançon are amongst the great sweet/dessert wines of the world and great value for money.
"Our Domain Bellegarde Cuvée Tradition Jurançon Moelleux uses 60% gros manseng and 40% petit manseng certified organic grapes. This beautiful, light golden wine exhibits luscious complex fruit, balance, length that is not too sweet on the finish. It is not botrytised but instead the bunches are left to dry on the vines concentrating an intensity of flavour," says Underhill." And it is a bargain – a brilliant value wine."
The Domain Bellegarde Cuvée Tradition Jurançon Moelleux’s fermentation and vinification has a distinct hierarchy, with the petit manseng using oak barrels for added complexity while the gros manseng is fermented and vinified in stainless steel.
Domaine Bellegarde is a family estate of 14 hectares of vineyards in the heart of the Jurançon appellation located between Lourdes and Biarritz in South-western France, near Pau at the foot of the Pyrénées.