Petit Manseng isn’t a grape that I know a whole lot about. I know it’s mostly grown in southern France and that it can get very ripe while retaining a lot of acidity — and thus is often made in a sweeter, even dessert, style to balance that acidity.
I also know that it’s gaining some traction in the Virginia wine industry. Retaining acidity is always a plus in a region where summers can get very warm. But its thick skins and loose clusters also help in a region that deals with humidity, heavy rain and hurricanes.
With high brix levels (and thus potential alcohol) at harvest and higher acidity it would seem that a deft touch — in the vineyard and in the cellar — is required to make balanced dry wines. I need to explore the grape in its various guises, but I came away impressed after tasting Pearmund Cellars 2015 Petit Manseng ($25).
It starts off with ripe pineapple and mango aromas — it’s quite tropical — with notes of spiced honey and honeysuckle.
Similarly tropical on the palate, mouth-filling flavors of pineapple, papaya and mango are incredibly concentrated on the mid-palate, but balanced by bright, citrusy acidity. There is just the tiniest bit of heat on the long, intense finish, but it really isn’t distracting. I’m fascinated by this grape now and hope to taste more Virginia examples.
Vineyard: South River Vineyard
Price: $25 (sample)