As we ring in the Spring, we are featuring our 2018 Mount Pleasant Petit Manseng for our April Wine of the Month! A bit of a sleeper wine on our list, Petit Manseng is a less commonly known grape that is growing in repute and quantity in the Virginia Wine Region. Complex and distinctive, this delightful little grape produces gorgeously dry white wines (as is the case with our version), but is also commonly used for off-dry or dessert wines. Our 2018 vintage was our first release of our estate-grown Petit Manseng; you are sure to want to snag a bottle (or two) before this premier vintage is gone.
Petit Manseng is a low yielding grape variety, native to the South West of France. Now grown in Spain, Australia, and the United States (most notably in our very own Virginia), this grape has increased in renown in recent years. Its fruit is small and thick skinned, with a high level of acidity. It grows in loose bunches which allows any water to easily evaporate from the surface of the grapes. When allowed to remain on the vine for an extended ripening period, the exposure to the air allows the grape to dry, undergoing a process the French call “passerillage” in which the fruit shrivels like a raisin. Even after this process, Petit Manseng retains much of its natural acidity, allowing for the production of gorgeous and uniquely balanced sweet and dessert wines (which is what you will find from many of the vineyards and wineries producing Petit Manseng in Virginia).
At Mount Ida Reserve, we harvest our Petit Manseng along with all of our other fruit during the normal harvest season, before the grapes start the drying process. Wine produced from this younger fruit is beautifully dry with a unique bitterness provided by those thick grape skins, and plenty of that natural acidity shining through. Traditionally, you will find aromas of candied fruit and spice, complemented by rich flavors of honey and nuts as well as tropical fruits like pineapple. Our version does not disappoint with a creamy texture, pleasantly bitter finish, and flavors of papaya, pineapple, and dried apricot. Stop by the Tasting Room this month for a chance to sample this show-stopper by the glass!
Pro Tip: If you’re a lover of Asian, ethnic, and spicy foods but can never find the right wine to pair…look no further. The complexity of Petit Manseng makes it the perfect accompaniment to these bold and bright flavors.