ROYAL WINE WILL DE­LIGHT

Ju­ra­con wine is ab­so­lutely bloody de­li­cious - and that’s a fact

Northern Rivers Style - - WINE - STE­WART WHITE

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.

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