Jurançon, a royal appellation of the South West
A drop of this precious nectar is said to have been applied to the lips of the future King Henry IV from his birth in 1553. In other words, Jurançon enjoys a more than royal aura. This appellation of the South-West of France unfolds in a grandiose setting that is worthy of its legend, the vines being cultivated on hillsides facing the majestic Pyrenees. The Jurançon appellation is known for its sweet and syrupy wines, but it also produces some excellent dry white wines.
General presentation of Jurançon
The Jurançon appellation area is located in Béarn, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It is around the communes of Jurançon and Monein, south of Pau, that the 1,000 hectares of the AOC are spread out. 25 communes are authorised to produce AOC "Jurançon" and "dry Jurançon" wines.
Five grape varieties are reserved for the production of Jurançon. First of all, gros manseng and petit manseng dominate; they are the ones that give Jurançon its particular identity. They represent at least 50% of the vineyard. Traditionally, gros manseng is preferred for dry jurançon and petit manseng, which produces more sugar, for sweet jurançon. It should be noted that only wines composed solely of Manseng can obtain the "vendange tardive" label.
Three other grape varieties are authorised. Courbu blanc, which is early, counterbalances the sweetness of Manseng. Rarer and less and less used, camaralet de Lasseube and lauzet add complexity and originality to the wines of the appellation.
Characteristics of Jurançon
Jurançon wines can be recognised by their honeyed aromas. They have a very attractive pale golden colour. To the honey are added notes of exotic fruits such as pineapple, passion fruit or citrus fruits. We also recognize touches of sweet spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, flowers such as broom, but also peach and candied fruit. The sweet Jurançon wines are delicious and delight the eye, the nose and the taste buds. They can be kept for 5 to 10 years, or even 15-25 years for the best of them.
The dry Jurançon white wines also have characteristic honey aromas. Behind a limpid colour with green reflections, aromas of exotic fruits, white fruits such as pears and apples, as well as notes of citrus, spices, flowers and wax develop. Fresh and lively, these wines can be kept for 5 to 10 years.
The Jurançon "vendange tardive" wines also reveal typical aromas of honey. They have candied and cooked fruits and spices.
How to taste a Jurançon
A Jurançon AOC wine is usually served at a temperature of 10-12°. It is excellent as an aperitif, with foie gras for example or smoked salmon. It also goes well with white meats in sauce and sweet and sour dishes. On the cheese side, a soft Jurançon goes perfectly with the sweetness of Ossau-Iraty. It also goes well with Roquefort, Fourme d'Ambert or Bleu d'Auvergne cheese. For dessert, Jurançon is perfect with crème brûlée, crème caramel and desserts with exotic fruits or small red fruits.
A dry white Jurançon AOC wine should be drunk at a temperature of 8-10°. It is renowned for its classy accompaniment to river fish and seafood. It can also be enjoyed as an aperitif, with cold meats for example, and it accompanies white meats. Goat's cheese also goes well with dry Jurançon.