Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

{ White Wine }


Gros Manseng originally comes from southwestern France, most likely from the Béarn province near Pau. For a long time, it was produced only in its original birthplace, in the Pyrenean Piedmont, and has only recently been exported.

With aromas of quince and apricot, white wines made from Gros Manseng, which are most often dry, are highly alluring. They often feature hints of spiced flowers. Sometimes, when harvested after overripening, they have a certain sweetness, with notes of candied fruits and exotic fruits (mango, pineapple and passion fruit).

Wines produced
Gros Manseng is a grape variety with exceptional flavors. It has a strong acid flavor that gives it a highly elegant character. When harvested, the grapes are the color of aged gold, which makes winemaking difficult. Pressing must be particularly carefully executed in order to minimize the diffusion of colors when the skin is separated from the juice. Wines made with Gros Manseng have a moderate alcohol potential, and are very powerful, sometimes reaching 13% alcohol content.

Areas planted
Gros Manseng is grown primarily in southern Gascony, in Béarn and the French Basque region. After nearly disappearing altogether (with only 58 hectares in 1958), production has constantly increased since the 1970s, reaching 2,800 hectares in 2006.

Budding and ripening
Gros Manseng is an early-budding variety, as it buds at the same time as Chasselas, the benchmark variety. In terms of ripening, however, it is very late. It ripens 4 weeks after Chasselas, making it a Period IV grape variety.

Gros Manseng is a vigorous, quite fertile grape variety. It is generally trellised and long pruned, as it on the whole gives high quality results even at higher yields (80 hectoliters per hectare). It also fares very well with short pruning, namely when the soil is highly fertile or frequently watered.

Preferred soils
Gros Manseng, grown on a large scale in the southern Aquitaine region, does well in cool clay-limestone soils, i.e. those that are sufficiently deep and supplied with water to resist excessive heat, namely in the middle of summer.

Ideal Climate
This grape variety from the Atlantic region can withstand relatively high humidity, and grows very well in Atlantic areas. Its long, late ripening period requires heat and relative dryness. The particularly dry, sunny late summers of the southern Aquitaine region give it excellent results in this area.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
Gros Manseng B is susceptible to oidium. It resists well against gray mold, however, and its berries hold up well on the stock in order to obtain, sweet liqueur-like wines.

Gros Manseng is used only to produce wine.

Distinctive features
Its young leaves are green or yellow and its shoots have green internodes. Its adult leaves are round (orbicular), and are whole with a petiolar sinus that has slightly overlapping edges. The teeth of the lobes are short with convex sides, and the leaf blade has no anthocyanic pigmentation of the veins. Its leaf edges are involuted and have a slight waffle-like pattern. The underside has a sparse to moderately dense coat of flat-lying hairs. The berries are round and very small, whereas the clusters are medium sized and rather long in shape.

Clones marketed
The eight approved Gros Manseng clones (specifically named Gros Manseng B) are numbers 397, 439, 572, 634, 661, 662, 731 and 764. More than 200 clones were plated at two conservatories, one in Pyrénées-Atlantiques (Jurançon) in 1996, and the other in Gers in 1997.

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