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New Varietal Experiments in Gascony.  Add/Read Comments

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In a region where regulations limit planting to the lackluster Colombard and never less than dull Ugni Blanc varieties, experimental plantings using other grapes is great news.

Trials in the C˘tes de Gascogne region are continuing with GewŘrztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Marsanne, Roussanne, Muscat a Petit Grains, Viognier, and Grolleau Gris being investigated as part of a concerted effort to upgrade the standard of Gascon white wines.

Note the absence of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon - they obviously do not want to upset their, already volatile, Bordeaux neighbours.

The first wines from these plantings have now been tasted with Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier showing most promise. Sadly these new grapes are only to be used in blending with their traditional varieties. A missed opportunity?

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Talk about rolling out all the old prejudices - what about Arrufiac, Petit Courbu, Petit and Gros Manseng - all of which are traditional Gascony white grapes producing some really interesting wines which the cogniscenti ignore because they don't know them and they are a little difficult to pronounce. True they used to be pretty dire, but with modern vinification techniques these can be impressive wines - dry, medium or sweet.

And as for Colombard and Ugni Blanc - yes they will never rival a great Sancerre or Chablis. but there is little better as a light fruity dry white for a summer picnic - horses for courses!!