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(Synonyms: Ambre, Arafiat, Arrefiac, Arrefiat, Arrufiat, Arufiat, Raffiac, Raffiat, Refiat, Rouffiac Femelle, Ruffiac, Ruffiac Blanc, Rufiat)
Arrufiac is a white-wine grape originating in the Gascony region in southwest France, and even today that is virtually the only place it is grown. Historically and still it is a wine that, while valued, is considered important chiefly or exclusively for its function in blended wines from the region, notably those of the Saint Mont appellation, though it can also occasionally be found in Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh wines (another French wine appellation).
In the classic regional blends, Arrufiac is never the dominant variety: the dominant wines in those blends are Courbu (aka Petit Courbu) and, often, Petit Manseng. Nonetheless, the role of Arrufiac is important because it adds a quite distinctive note to the final blend, distinguishing those Saint Mont and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh wines in which it appears from the otherwise fairly similar white blends of the nearby Jurançon appellation.
The distinctive aromatic quality of Arrufiac is virtually always described as "gunflint", which may or may not be useful. By itself, Arrufiac is more or less medium-bodied, and tends to have low levels of alcohol, though it is high in tannins (leading to the oft-repeated remark that it is a "masculine" type). A typical description of Pacherenc du Vic Bilh blends is Petit Courbu for body and structure; Petit and Gros Manseng for sweetness; and Arrufiac for a cleansing acidity at the end (as well as the gunflint aromatic contribution).
Monovarietal Arrufiac appears to be an oxymoron. Probably, with the rising popularity of formerly little-known wines, someone will soon or late try one, but not yet. One of the chief winemaking enterprises in the region is the co-operative Producteurs Plaimont, which has contributed much to the revival of interest in white wines from Gascony; they produce quite a spectrum of wines, many including Arrufiac as a key element. Indeed, they may be said to be mainly or even wholly responsible for saving Arrufiac from virtual extinction.
Factoid: the name "Arrufiac" seems to come from the Oc (as in Langue d'Oc) "Rufe" and from the Gascon "Arrufe", terms meaning "rough", "proud", or even "coarse".
Some Descriptions of Arrufiac Wines
Some Arrufiacs to Try(About this list.)
Well, as we noted above, there really aren't any. You can keep an eye out in wine shops for any whites from the big Producteurs Plaimont co-op, who are almost the only maker using Arrufiac, but for some reason their wines, though popular internationally, do not seem to make it into the U.S. (There is a listed importer, "PlaimArques", but they have zero internet presence.)
Note that any white containing Arrufiac had best say sec somewhere on its label or you will almost surely be looking at a rather sweet wine.
One Plaimont wine with at least some Arrufiac in it is their "Les Bastions" blanc, running anywhere from $8 to $16 in the few places in the U.S. carrying it ("tropical-tasting" one reviewer remarked). Curiously, the Plaimont web site itself does not show this wine.
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