Petit Manseng Grape Variety & Wine Profile
Though originally from the Southwest France regions of Jurançon and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Petit Manseng has become the golden grape of Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry. It’s perfectly suited for the climate across much of the state due to its naturally high acidity that helps to maintain flavor and balance in the warmer late summers and fall. Petit Manseng is naturally very high in sugar and is capable of a long ripening season, which makes it a perfect option for late harvest dessert wines. It is named “petit” for its smaller, thick berries, and it is in the Manseng family, which includes Gros Manseng and Manseng Noir.
This grape is easy to grow in the vineyard with loose bunches that help with airflow and prevention of mold and mildew, especially in wetter growing regions. In fact, growers have noted that wetter seasons are best for this grape variety, especially later in the season, as wetter days help to balance some of the grape’s natural high sugar content and acidity. Petit Manseng grows best in heavier soils like clay and silt.
The Wine Styles of Petit Manseng
Though easier in the vineyard, Petit Manseng does require work in the winery. It can be made into a late harvest dessert wine, single varietal dry wine, blended with other white varieties, or co-fermented with red or white grapes. Some producers will use oak, others rely on lees aging or malolactic fermentation to soften the naturally high acidity in the grape.
Petit Manseng Tasting Notes
In the glass, Petit Manseng wines are full-bodied and full of texture, and often described as creamy and “cheesy.” Predominant fruit characteristics are stone fruits like peaches and apricots, citrus, and green apple, with secondary flavors of candied fruit, nuts, and spice. This grape is often used to add body to a blend and has been described as having more red wine characteristics. It should be served chilled but will become exponentially more expressive as it warms up in the glass.
Food Pairing Petit Manseng
Dry Petit Manseng wines should be served with rich and robust foods that can complement its full-bodied texture and expressive flavors. Seafood or heavier white fish like halibut with buttery sauces, pork, Asian dishes, and soy (umami) flavors are good options to pair.
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jacqueline Coleman
Jacqueline Coleman is a professional wine + travel writer, wine judge, columnist, and consultant based in Miami, FL.
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The Structure and Style of Petit Manseng Wines
Sugar Sweet - Dry
Tannins Medium Minus