Jean Aubron Folle Blanche 21

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If you haven't heard of Folle Blanch, you're not alone. In the world of white wines, it's not exactly a household name, and I was unaware of it until my first visit to the Loire Valley in France some years ago. When you can find it, there's a lot to like about this zippy white, and it just happens to be a great sipper for the summer months.

Folle Blanche is an ancient white varietal that was heavily planted in Cognac and Armagnac in France during the early 1800s. It remained a major player in these regions until the late 19th century when the phylloxera epidemic decimated vineyards across Europe, including most of France. Following this devastation, vignerons largely replaced Folle Blanche with grape varieties that were more resistant to disease and easier to cultivate, such as Ugni Blanc.

The grape is not widely known or planted these days due to its finicky and challenging nature. It often falls prey to vine diseases and requires specific, well-drained soils. It also tends to produce super-bright and zesty wines, which, without careful vinification, can be ordinary and unbalanced.

Jean-Pascal Aubron, a passionate and dedicated winemaker from the Loire Valley, has made it his mission to revitalize Folle Blanche and showcase its true potential. Unlike most, Aubron sees the grape's high natural acidity as an asset, one that, when handled correctly, can produce wines of extraordinary freshness and vibrancy.

Through meticulous vineyard management and attention to detail in the winery, he has been able to curb the typical difficulties associated with growing this grape. His success also lies in the particular soil of his vineyards, composed mainly of gneiss and mica, which seems to suit the Folle Blanche perfectly. Moreover, he practices organic farming and uses minimal intervention in the winemaking process to allow the true characteristics of the grape to shine through.

In your glass, Jean-Pascal Aubron's Folle Blanche is an exercise in zippy freshness. On the nose, aromatic hints of white flowers, green apple, pear, and a subtle hint of citrus zest treat the senses. This wine's bracing natural acidity creates a lively, vibrant sensation on the palate, making it incredibly refreshing.

The palate is clean and delicate, with notes of green fruit and a distinct minerality thanks to the gneiss and mica soils. The middle palate finishes with nicely lingering notes of citrus and gentle sea spray, a nod to the maritime influence on the vineyards. Pair this clean, fresh white with shellfish, white-fleshed fish, and lighter poultry.

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