2021 Domaine Lajibe – Jean-Baptiste Semmartin – Mansengs et Compagnie, Mansengs, Dry White Wine, Vin de France.
The intensely dry, crisp and reductive, tension filled white is a thriller from the Jurancon region, in France’s remote Pyrenees area, made from the two local varietals, Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, it shows racy citrus, white peach and quince fruits, along with minerally flint and wet stones, as well as hazelnut, clove/ginger spice, a hint dried pineapple, lemon zest and wild herb. This medium bodied wine is a very unique version of a Jurancon Sec, and is brilliantly balanced with loads of acidity and brightness, but still allows for a pleasing sense of textural feel and makes for a great food wine, especially with artisan country cheeses and or oysters. For this vintage, 2021, the winemaker Jean-Baptiste Semmartin chose to use zero added SO2 and the all organic grapes were direct pressed to used barrels for fermentation, with spontaneous natural yeasts, and aging, to promote freshness and transparency. This region is best known for the sweet wines, usually using these grapes, but efforts like this one from Semmartin shows just how good dry wines can be. Those that like Saumur Blanc (Chenin Blanc), Jura Savagnin (non oxidized) and or old school white Burgundy will find a lot to like here.
Winemaker, ex-fencing star, Jean-Baptiste Semmartin employs a natural winemaking style to his wines, including a long fermentation(s), favoring extended lees aging in neutral French oak barrels, and he does minimal filtration or additions, if any, with ultra low doses sulphur at bottling. Semmartin started his winemaking journey in 2005 and began working in Bordeaux, and in Collioure, but really found his influence after working with Emmanuel Giboulout in Burgundy, who works with biodynamic methods, which Jean-Baptiste brought along with him to the Jurancon. His first wines, bottled under the Domaine Lajibe and Mansengs et Compagnie label were in 2015 and he really has created a buzz with them and they are now very geeky cool, making them rare and hard to find offerings, with this Mansengs being the best value and easiest to find. Confusingly, this 2021 is not labelled Domaine Lajibe, but rather just Mansengs et Compagnie on the back and with his Jean-Baptiste Semmartin name on the front label. Semmartin, who represented France in the national fencing team, is committed to his region’s indigenous (main) grapes of the Jurancon, including Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng, as found here in this wine, along with Petit Courbu and the exceptionally rare Claverie. Imported to California by Petite Wines, this is a winemaker to watch, and I look forward to trying some of his other bottlings as they become available here.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive