Clos Guirouilh, 2017 Jurançon Sec | France

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the Week – Jurançon Sec | November 1, 2021

The Jurançon region is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountain chain to the southwest of the city of Pau in France. Vineyards were already there 2,000 years ago as Roman mosaics from that time suggest. In the 14th century, the vineyards in the Jurançon region were defined as special vineyard sites (crus) by decision of the Parliament of Navarre. Among other things, it was forbidden at that time to import foreign wines. This can be seen as one of the first attempts at a classification or protected designation of origin. Incidentally, Jurançon was one of the first French regions to be classified as an appellation at the end of the 1930s. History tells us that the King of Navarre Anton of Bourbon (1518-1562), at the baptism of his son and later King and great wine lover Henri IV (1553-1610), wetted his lips with it.

The vineyards cover about 2,400 acres on south-facing slopes at 900 to 1,800 feet above sea level. The vines, set in terraces, take full advantage of an oceanic microclimate with mild weather and precipitation but swept by waves of hot and dry air (the Foehn effect). The vines are raised to a height of seven feet which protects them from ground frosts. The long, sunny autumns allow a very late harvest into December. The traditional Jurançon version, similar to the sweet Sauternes wines, is a concentrated, sweet white wine made from overripe or dried grapes. The small-berried and thick-skinned grape varietal Petit Manseng is particularly well suited for this. Courbu Blanc, Camaralet de Lasseube, Gros Manseng, Lauzet and Petit Courbu are also present in small quantities. Jurançon Sec was classified as a separate appellation in 1975. This is a dry variant made from the Gros Manseng and Courbu Blanc varietals.

Clos Guirouilh is among the most hardcore, traditional domaines of Jurançon, a rare producer who provides us a window into the historic soul of the wine region. The domaine is located around 1,000 feet above the village of Lasseube, and it is this terroir that is the key to making the truly distinctive and complex wines that the region is known for. Their 24 acres of Gros Manseng, Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng are grown on clay-calcareous soils with lots of yellow sandstone called grès, all directly around the ancient farmhouse that serves as both winery and home. The vines are all in excess of 40 years old and are highly trellised to take advantage of the Foehn wind and all of the benefits that great ventilation brings to a vineyard. The soils and elevations contribute to giving the wines their fresh, acidic framework for balance and complexity. Nothing at Clos Guirouilh is rushed, and there are no concessions to the pace of the modern world (hence, no website…); the wines are released when they are deemed ready to drink after a long period of cellar aging.

Clos Guirouilh, Jurançon Sec 2017

Origin: Jurançon, France
Varietals: 85% Gros Manseng, 15% Petit Courbu
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested Retail Price: $23.00
ABV: 13.5%

The wine displays a beautiful lemon gold color. Aromas of acacia, white flowers and stone fruit unfold in the nose. The palate is dry with a slight creaminess showing flavors of Meyer lemon, green apple and stone fruit, all wrapped in juicy acidity leading the wine to a long finish with a hint of minerality.

Suggested food pairings: as an aperitif, charcuterie, salads, fish, sausages, grilled vegetables, cheeses.

> For more information, visit the De Maison Selections official website.