Grape Variety: Menu Pineau

Colour: White

The producers of Menu Pineau, a typical white variety of this region, can be counted on the fingers of one hand and number Claude Courtois, Julien’s father, and the Puzelats. The variety is also locally known as Arbois and Verdet as the grapes on certain vine remain green even at full maturity. Judged as poor in quality and less modish than Sauvignon it is not planted any more, surviving purely thanks to certain local sweet wines where it forms a minor part of the blend. In Julien Courtois Originel Blanc it responds well to the extremely low yields (20 hl/ha), a third of the average for this admittedly rare variety. The specific terroir – silica and flint over clay and flint – linked to the upbringing of the wine (twelve months in barriques) confers a great deal of complexity to the final wine. A silky ensemble, both racy and powerful with ripe fruits on top of secondary aromatics of menthol, gentiane and butter and churned cheese. Carafe this wine two hours before drinking. When you drink it the following thoughts will trickle into your mind. Is it oxidised and is the wine meant to taste like this? Stop analysing, start enjoying.

I describe this as “like Chenin on acid” (man) because I pick up many of that grape’s signature aromas: wax, hay, marzipan and ripe cheese. The palate has a surprise bite of nervous acidity which brings all the aromas and flavours into clear focus. Someone at the France Under One Roof tasting observed that it reminded them an apple tarte tartin (an upside down one, surely?). Or to give it an alliterative skip how about “liquid tart tarte tatin”? Like all interesting wines this Originel changes in the glass. Bring on the Brie de Meaux!

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