Malcolm Jolley finds a super value fruit forward wine from Gascony.
Domaine La Hitaire ‘La Petite Hitaire’ Côtes du Gascone 2017 – LCBO# 553925 – $9.95
Ugni Blanc is the French name for Italy’s most widely planted white wine grape, Trebbiano, but it’s famous in France mostly as the fruit that makes Cognac and Armagnac. In either case, it’s main identifying characteristic is high acidity. As North American palates have shifted from a preference big and round white wines to leaner and crisper ones, not least Northern Italian Pinot Grigio, grapes like Ugni Blanc are suddenly coming into their own for table wine. Witness La Petite Hitaire, which is made from 65% Ugni Blanc and 30% Colombard, another grape of Western France, related to Chenin Blanc, and known for its fruity character. La Petite Hitaire is made by the borthers Armin and Rémy Grassa, who come from a prominent Gascone wine growing family. They make the wine in an interesting, and pleasing way, stopping fermentation at a a very quaffable 10.5% alcohol by volume and retaining a little of their grapes’ residual sugar: 5%, which is still very much “dry white wine” but just enough to soften the high acidity form the Ugni Blanc. What’s in the glass is full of fruit and flowers. I get peaches, limes and tropicals and a low line of white flower aromatics. It’s a patio wine and an afternoon killer, and with its low alcohol it is (in theory) not too dangerous. At just under $10 a bottle it’s also well worth a try.