Petit Manseng White Wine Variety in Australia

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Petit Manseng is a white wine variety from South West France. Some consider it to be the same variety as the popular Spanish variety Albarino, but this idea is now discounted.

There is a related variety Gros manseng (with bigger berries) but the Petit version is considered to be superior.

In SW France it is the mainstay variety of the Jurancon and the Pacherenc appellations. Jurancon is to the south of the city of Pau. The region is at 300m altitude and moderately cool. Thirty km or so to the north is Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, around Madiran, more famous for its Tannat based red wines. Petit manseng is also grown in the Basque regions of Spain.

Sweet, Moelleux and dry wines are made from Petit Manseng in these appellations. The sweet wines are most often made by allowing the grapes to dry to a semi raisined state on the vine (Passerillage) rather than by using Botrytis.

Petit manseng is grown for its floral fruity flavours along with high acidity and is increasing in popularity in the Languedoc and in California. It is also popular in Uruguay where it was introduced by Basque colonists along with Tannat.

Petit Manseng in Australia

Peter Read, former owner of Symphonia wines in NE Victoria championed the variety in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. The Symphonia vineyard is now owned by Sam Miranda. He has retained the Symphonia label for the alternative varieties produced at that vineyard.

I think that the variety has potential here. Like most aromatic whites care has to be taken to get enough fruit flavours into dry wines without overdoing it. Sweet and semi sweet wines (Apart from a famous Crouchen Riesling) struggle to find a market in Australia.

The wineries in the list below all produce good dry white wines from the variety. While Petit Manseng is starting well behind the new fashionable niche white varieties of Fiano, Arneis and Vermentino I reckon there is a definite future for the variety in Australia.

Crittenden Estate use Petit manseng to make a spritzy wine called Saludo al Txakoli, a reference to the light bodied white from the Basque region most suitable for consuming with seafood tapas.

919 Wines Riverland | Albert River Queensland Coastal | Bassham Riverland | Bochara Henty | Chrismont King Valley | Crittenden at Dromana Mornington Peninsula | Fighting Gully Road Beechworth | Gapsted Alpine Valleys | Mansfield Wines Mudgee | Marq Margaret River | Oak Works Riverland | Ringer Reef Winery Alpine Valleys | Savina Lane Granite Belt | Symphonia King Valley | Toppers Mountain New England | Whistling Kite Riverland

Food pairing and Petit Manseng

The aromatic nature of dry wines made form Petit Manseng could be paired with lightly spiced Asian dishes, say Thai style prawns with coriander, lemon grass and ginger, sliced fish and green curry.

More generally any food that you would pair with Riesling would be suitable.

Give yourself a treat in Springtime.

Steam some fresh asparagus and toss it with some butter and a splash of white wine vinegar. Don't muck around with elaborate sauces for asparagus, allow the natural flavour to express itself.

Serve as an entree with some chilled Petit manseng.

If you find a bottle of Moelleux you can enjoy it chilled as an aperitif, or maybe with some foie gras.

Jenny Semmler of 919 wines has made some suggestions for pairing with 919 Wines Petit Manseng

I'd love to hear about your suggestions for food pairing with this variety.

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