“The Southwest [corner of France] does not have a single wine of truly classic status ….” , so claims Tom Stevenson in Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. Damning words? However, he continues “….yet it probably offers more value for money and is a greater source of hidden bargains than any other French region.” Zero to hero, then, in a single sentence. And the latter sentiment is what Leon Stolarski of Nottingham would want us to believe. His company, Leon Stolarski Fine Wines, waves the banner for the less well-known areas of France. This post concerns a wine from Stolarski, a Jurancon, the area south of Pau, in the shadow of the western Pyranees. It is L’Estela, Jurancon Sec AC made by Montesquiou, vintage 2012 – so we’re drinking a very young white wine. Richard purchased it in February/March 2013, so it hadn’t been in bottle for very long. 13.5%.
L’Estela is a blend of 50% Gros Manseng, 40% Courbu and 10% Petit Manseng grapes – all varieties, it would be fair to say, that don’t claim a vast amount of growing space in France. Being brutally reductive, the qualities of each grape seem to be power, acidity and aromatics respectively – although I’m quite prepared for a challenge on those descriptors. The consistent word used for these wines is ‘nervosity’, a wine trade buzz-word. We’ll see.
Trembling, I poured a glass. Green-gold in colour, bright and clear with some evidence of viscosity, the wine had a very slight spreckle, which might be expected in such a young wine. Initially, the nose was not strongly varietal but later developed a pronounced lime quality (yet again prompting talk about the benefits of decanting white wines). I also detected a peppery aroma, but this faded. Positively shaking, we sipped. The wine was high in acidity, refreshing and of good length, distinctly dry and weighty in the mouth; it was a full, rather than light, wine. It was a well-made wine, good to enjoy with seafood and chicken dishes that had stronger-flavoured sauces. And yes, it did have an ‘edge’, which made it attractive. Good quality and value. Thank you, Leon Stolarski.
[Richard: LS is a good source of wines from under-appreciated parts of France and this is no exception. Very well made wine – apart from a tartaric crystal deposit – which reminded me a little of a superior gros plant or muscadet. About £10.50.]