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The Gros Manseng Grape


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About Gros Manseng

(Synonyms: Gros Mansenc Blanc, Gros Manseng Blanc, Handia, Ichiriota Zuria, Ichiriota Zuriahandla, Manseng Gros Blanc, Petit-Mansenc)

Background

Map showing the Jurancon area

Gros Manseng is a white-wine grape originating in southwest France; while it populates that entire region now, it is thought to have begun in Jurançon. It is occasionally bottled as a monovarietal, being much more often one component of one of the characteristic regional blends (such as Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh and Jurançon, which latter can be sweet or sec, dry).

Gros Manseng is closely related to the supposedly more premium grape Petit Manseng, and both are often used in the same blends. Gros Manseng is more productive but regarded as less "elegant and rich" than its cousin grape; nonetheless, it makes some quite good and pleasing wines on its own. Some are, in the style of the region, vinified sweet (because this is a very high-sugar grape), but not a few are made as table wine. (One can make a colorable argument that the preference for Petit over Gros arises largely because Petit makes extraordinarily luscious sweet wines, and that for dry table wines, Gros is as good or better.)

Gros Manseng wines are typically dark (for a white) and intensely flavored with fruit and floral aromas and tastes; typically, one hears of apricot and quince, along with spice and flowers. The wines are medium- to full-bodied and high in acidity, which well balances their richness. The nature of the wine depends a good deal on the vineyard practices: Gros Manseng grapes picked early will make light, easy wines with an alcohol content of 11.5% to 12% marked by a fresh-fruit, floral quality; grapes picked later, making wines in the 12.5% to 13.5% alcohol range will have much more powerful "big wine" flavors and aromas. The alcohol level is thus a good proxy for the style of any particular bottling.

Factoid: Gros Manseng is nowadays also made in a sweet botrytized style, often significantly oaked, and such wines are receiving good reports.

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Some Descriptions of Gros Manseng Wines

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Some Gros Mansengs to Try

(About this list.)

There are numerous specimens of Gros Manseng available at reasonable prices, but there are obstacles for one seeking out such wines. First, many are not monovarietal but simply blends containing some Gros Manseng; those might be fine wines, but the idea here is to present monovarietal (or nearly so) bottlings, so that the grape’s nature can be evaluated. Second, many Gros Manseng wines are hidden behind the designation “Jurançon Sec”; such wines can be blends but are fairly often 100% Gros Manseng. Third, one has to take care not to be buying a sweet dessert rendition (and it’s easy to be misled—look for that word sec, “dry”). Fourth, while there are many specimens out there, a high percentage have very limited availability.

The short list below is what we could find with both decent ratings and decent availability, but check your favorite retailers for “Jurançon Sec” wines that are mostly or wholly Gros Manseng. They’re worth the effort.


Domaine des Cassagnoles Cuvée Gros Manseng “Reserve Selection”
(Their Gros Manseng bottlings, four or so, can be confusing. This is the one labelled and marketed as their “Reserve Selection”)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Lapeyre Jurançon Sec
(100% Gros Manseng)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

There isn’t really any choice for a splurge—it seems as if just about every 100% Gros Manseng bottling comes in at or under $20 retail in the U.S. That may be a consequence of its playing second fiddle to Petit Manseng, but in any event if you want to splurge on this wine, buy several bottles, or even a case.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.