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The Baroque Grape

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About Baroque

(Synonyms: Barake, Baroca, Baroke, Barroque, Blanc Bordelais, Bordelais, Bordelais blanc, Bordeleza zuria, Boudales, Bourdales, Claverie blanc, Escripet folle, Muscadelle de Nates, Petit Bordelais, Plant Bordelais, Sable blanc)


Baroque grapes Map showing the Tursan region of France

Baroque is a white-wine grape originating in the Tursan region of south-west France, and is grown virtually nowhere else. It is a grape that almost went extinct, and was—which happens more often than it should have to—saved and redeemed by the efforts of one dedicated winemaker.

Baroque is (to put it mildly) not a wine type well known, owing to its limited quantities and production region. It is said to produce a big wine, full-bodied, strong-flavored, and of relatively high alcohol levels. In aroma, ripe pears are mentioned; others say that its nose is comparable to that of Sauvignon Blanc—indeed, Sauvignon Blanc may well be one of Baroque's parent grapes (a crossing with the bland Folle Blanche grape). The flavor of Baroque is said to have nut overtones and be "characterful". Jancis Robinson rates it as capable of producing wines ranging from middling to high quality, which is why we include it; but good luck trying to find specimens in the U.S., much less reasonably priced specimens.

White wines labelled "Tursan" must, by French law, contain from 30% to 90% Baroque, with the rest being Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc (some sources also mention Petit Manseng and even Chenin Blanc as allowed). That implies that a monovarietal Baroque would be hard to find.

Factoid: The eminent ampelographer Pierre Galet claims that Baroque was brought to France as cuttings from Spain by pilgrims returning from Santiago de Campostela; references to the wine in France are found at least as far back as the 1700s.

Some Descriptions of Baroque Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Baroque (often spelled Barroque) . . . can make full bodied wines with nutty flavors. . . Baroque produces a full-bodied wine with noticeable alcohol levels and weight. It shares many of the same aroma characteristics as Sauvignon blanc."

  • Wine Searcher

    "Baroque is a full-bodied white wine grape grown in the Tursan region of south-western France. It is noted for the balance its wines can achieve between high alcohol levels and crisp, refreshing palate; an unusual distinction given that the two qualities do not normally coexist. The origins of Baroque are unclear, although it is known that it was once widely grown in South West France. Now it is almost entirely confined to Tursan, where it is required to make up 30-80% of white wines from the region. Varietal Baroque wines are extremely rare. It has a suggested parentage of Sauvignon Blanc and Folle Blanche, which seems plausible given Baroque’s grassy aromas and ripe, fruity flavors."

  • Wines of South West France

    "Baroque, the distinctive white grape of the Tursan appellation, is resistant to oïdium, mildew, and black rot. It may have southwestern French origins, although botanist Pierre Galet suggests a Galician source (northwest Spain). Baroque’s musts can be high in sugar, but handled carefully, its wines are fresh and aromatic."

  • Wine Making Talk

    "The Baroque grape variety is planted in the south west part of France and used to [make] white wine. It is planted specifically around Tursan region. It turns out . . full bodied wines that come with nutty notes of flavor. There are some experts who think that it could be a crossing between Folle Blanche and the Sauvignon Blanc. . . During the 20th century, this grape variety earned a lot of interest from vine growers all around, since it is highly resistant to the powdery mildew. . . But when the 80s came, it somehow became almost extinct . . . due to the commercial development projects that happened in the lands that used to serve as the vineyards of this variety. . . Baroque based wines are full bodied and [have] a lot of aroma to boast of compared to other wines."

  • Ladies With Bottle

    "The white Baroque (often spelled Barroque) can make full bodied wines, high in alcohol and has nutty flavours. Interestingly it has amongst its synonyms Bordelais Blanc (I wonder if it was ever used in Bordeaux?) and Sable Blanc (meaning White Sand – is this a hark back to the soils it is grown in or to the Sand Cellars?). Luckily the Baroque grape has been saved from extinction by Michelin starred chef Michel Guérard [who produces] the award winning wines Chateau de Bachen and the Baron de Bachen from Baroque grapes. The Hachette Guide describes them as:

    chiselled shiny pale gold with a complex nose where floral and fruity blend with elegant oak vanilla, lemon zest confit, blond tobacco, pepper, woodland, cappuccino and, pineapple notes . . . A sophisticated wine that has substance."
  • Seven Wines

    "Tursan white is made with the Baroque grape, supplemented with a maximum of 10 per cent of Gros Manseng and Sauvignon. This French wine is fresh, fruity, and very aromatic with a very pleasing taste."

Some Baroques to Try

(About this list.)

The sad fact seems to be that there are few or no white Tursans imported into the U.S.—we certainly could not find any, neither with wine-search engines nor even plain Google. Sorry. If you ever run across a white wine with "Tursan" somewhere on the lable, grab a few bottles.

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