Let’s have a little look at the increasingly popular Uva Non Grata Gros Manseng (2020). Affectionately known to frequent BLUDGE drinkers as “Fat Fairy Wine” as a nod to the gorgeous, voluptuous fairy on the label, this is a wine that breaks a lot of rules – so let’s do a deep dive into this banger.
Uva Non Grata (UNG) is a “Vin de France” which is essentially the kind way of saying “table wine.” But don’t let that put a dampener on it – the term is also a catch all for wines which sit outside the box, and by box we mean the very strict French appellation rules and regulations. Loosely speaking, all we really know about the provenance of these wines is that they are in fact French. We can hazard a guess at where they might be from by looking at where these grapes commonly grow in France but it’s mostly speculation. I’d imagine that these grapes are grown in the south west, where it’s semi oceanic, so warm but dry in summer and cool in winter – great for grapes!
Gros Manseng is relatively unknown. For years, it was held in lower regard than its equally obscure parent, Petit Manseng, and usually grows in South West France. By the late 1950s there were only about 100 acres of Gros Manseng left in France, and its future looked bleak, but it’s back, back, back again baby!
Globally speaking, the 2020 vintage was one of the most challenging in recent history. With regards to the climate and vineyard workers, conditions were quite favourable in France, and with the lack of tastings and hectic travel vintners were able to focus more on important stuff – the vines and the people who work them. But they did have to come up with a whole new way of managing an organisation, as well as dealing with tricky changes in demand. Sales went right down with the closure of restaurants (Vin de France wines make up a significant percentage of house wines and the like) but then ticked upwards when people were encouraged to go out again (not that that turned out very well…) In general, the harvest started early and ended early, and a very dry two months meant that alcohol levels are naturally a little lower – which some people are into! UNG is a modest 12.5%.
UNG sits somewhere between bone dry and off-dry. It’s definitely got a hint of residual sugar, which means it will stand up to a spicy Thai curry or a strong blue cheese. But we have to talk about the flavours involved because they are out of control!
This wine is zesty, loud, zippy and zingy. Spiky acidity at the front of the mouth, then on reflection it’s got this lovely smokiness like an incense stick that was blown out a few minutes prior. It’s an overlooked and under-appreciated grape – so we’re very very happy to give Fat Fairy here a wee highlight here! And did we mention that she’s vegan??
I do wish we knew the meaning behind the lovely label. Perhaps leave your theories in the comments.