Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Allamand 2015 Cuvée Saint Jeannet, Mendoza

Allamand Saint Jeannet

What? Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of the Saint Jeannet grape. We hadn’t either – until we tried this bottle.

Exploring The Unknown In Argentina

Occasionally we get the itch for a different type of white wine. When that happens, the itch must be scratched.

In this case I happened to spy this bottle in Walt Churchill’s Market for about $12. I said, “Why not?” and the bottle rested in the cellar for a few months.

When I retrieved the bottle to chill it, I noticed that this was not a run of the mill white. It was a special cuvée of a very unusual grape. I’ve never tried it before and I suspect I’m not the only one in the dark about the Saint Jeannet grape.

Saint Who?

Saint Jeannet is a grape that has its origins in France, where it is known as Gros Vert Blanc. We believe that Luminis Winery and Vineyards is the only commercial producer of Saint Jeannet or Gros Vert Blanc in the world.

This is a rare and almost extinct grape variety. It has been confirmed by DNA analysis that Luminis is indeed cultivating the rare Saint Jeannet grape. Cristian Allamand, the winemaker, and his father Raymond rescued the variety and have planted almost two hectares of Saint Jeannet. The 2015 vintage was limited to just 250 cases.

The Taste Test

All this unique and cool background doesn’t mean beans if the wine is no good. We were delightfully surprised with the fresh taste of Cuvée Saint Jeannet. It’s a blend of 75% Saint Jeannet and 25% Chardonnay. While the Chard is evident on the palate, this isn’t a Chardonnay driven blend.

It’s only 11.5% alcohol, and we’ve found that low alcohol wines are very food friendly (Riesling and rosé for example). There are clean, citrus flavor notes with a dollop of minerality. There are fragrant aromas of white flowers.

Green Dragon guessed this wine was Viognier, and it shares the delicate flavors and fragrance. As we sipped, the Chardonnay component became more evident in a pleasing way.

Apparently I bumbled into a bottle of wine made with an almost extinct grape. Lucky me! This is worth seeking out – and it won’t break the bank either at about $12. 

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