Two different grape varieties that are from the same family, and show quite similar qualities. The difference in the names comes from the size of the berries on the vine. Gros Manseng has larger berries, whereas Petit Manseng has, you guessed it, smaller ones.
Both grapes are only really grown in the South-Western corner of France, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Regions that produce wines from them include Jurançon, Béarn and Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh (the white appellation of Madiran). Outside of France, there are very small pockets of Petit Manseng in the United States, Uruguay, and Australia.
Although exhibiting similar qualities, the wines from each grape can be quite distinct. Gros Manseng, when picked early, shows flavours of light stone fruits, such as apricot, along with spice and floral notes. When picked later, the wines can be intensely aromatic. Gros Manseng is also used to make a range of sweet wines, from late harvest styles to botrytis-affected wines as well.
Petit Manseng produces similarly aromatic wines that tend to be of a better quality than Gros Manseng. It is famously made into a sweet wine through late-harvesting and passerillage (drying) in Pacherenc and Jurançon. These wines are noted for their vibrant tropical fruit notes, stone fruit, citrus characters and hints of spice, all supported by a crisp acidity. They are ideally served chilled as an aperitif, or with some Pâté du Foie Gras!
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