Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Get to Know a Grape: Mauzac

This week, we're looking at an aromatic French white wine grape: Mauzac!

Unless you happen to be a sparkling wine aficionado, you may not have heard of Mauzac before. Popular with winemakers in Southwest France in the 1970s and 1980s, Mauzac has since become supplanted by the better-known Chardonnay as the leading white wine grape for the region. Nevertheless, many wineries in parts of Languedoc and Southwest France continue to use Mauzac to create fantastic still and sparkling wines.

Wines made from Mauzac tend to be highly aromatic and have unique flavours of dried apples as well as a good amount of acidity, particularly in dry sparkling wines. Mauzac grapes ripen late in the harvest season, making them sensitive to early frosts. Traditionally, winemakers would harvest Mauzac grapes in late September or early October, giving them time to undergo additional fermentation on the vine. Today most prefer to harvest Mauzac earlier in the season to maintain the grape's natural acidity. The grape is also susceptible to rot due to its high fertility and the dense structure of its fruit.

Mauzac is often vinified on its own, particularly when winemakers make use of more traditional vinification methods, such as methode ancestrale or methode gaillacoise (these are usually demarcated on the wine label). However, some winemakers prefer to blend Mauzac with Chardonnay and/or Chenin blanc in creating their sparkling wines. In addition to Languedoc and Southwest France, Mauzac is sometimes used in making still white in Bordeaux.

Pairing a sparkling Mauzac wine depends largely on whether the wine is sweet or dry. Sweet Mauzac sparklers pair best with foie gras, light seafood dishes, and Cantal or goat cheese. Dry sparkling wines made from Mauzac pair well with fish or berries or can be consumed as an aperitif.

The Short Version
Names: Mauzac, Mauzac Blanc, Blanquette, Caspre, Gaillac.
Flavour Profile: Highly aromatic nose of apples and candied fruit with a nice bit of acidity.
Food Pairings (sweet): Foie gras, goat cheese, Cantal, Brebis
Food Pairings (dry): Fish and light seafood dishes, strawberries.
Price Range: $15-$35

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