Apologies, I’m rather late to the party here (a 12 hour flight over the weekend has left me a little shell shocked, now sitting on a sunlounger with a Pina Colada has gifted me a little time ), but I’d describe my relationship with Cauhapé wines as ‘complicated’, not least because whilst I still buy them (pretty much exclusively EP or mail order these days, the last time I visited was ISTR 2014) I think over the last decade quality has become a bit ‘patchy’, to say the least…
Admittedly any discussion of Jurançon can’t credibly take place - much like Alain Brumont in Madiran - without a large chunk of the discussion being dominated by Henri Ramonteu (his Domaine is an absolute leviathan compared to every other property in the area), I think stylistically he pushed the Appellation through what could be (euphemistically) described as ‘The Parker Years’, and he’s come out the other side - for me - as a producer who achieves concentration, indeed in some of his cuvée I’d say hedonistic levels, but in my opinion this has come at the expense of sophistication (perhaps finesse, or balance, would be a better descriptor?).
To be fair to Msr Ramonteu, I’d say it’s a criticism I could level at a few in Monein, particularly in ‘solar’ vintages. Equally, I suppose, you could level the criticism at those from the east for seeming a bit ‘mean and lean’ in cooler years, but nevertheless, I just don’t think he deserves his position (on merit) on an elevated pedestal any more. He’s good, but others are doing as well or better - and plenty of them. I think the key is those who haven’t given in to the dominance of Petit Manseng, but retained a much better balance in the plantings of other varieties, notably the Courbu family, which add that ‘finesse’ counterpoint to the powerhouse Petit Manseng.
As I say, notwithstanding all these criticism I still have cases and cases of his wine knocking around - so take the criticisms I suppose as intended, in that he’s good, but not perhaps of a standard he used to be - and that whilst he’s a really good introduction to the appellation, it would be nice if, say, TWS stocked some of his competitors (they’re selling a Lapeyre, and his Vitatge Vielh for me is a really good example of a more ‘balanced’ Jurançon Sec). I can but drop hints!
(And I’d add a further footnote that they’re probably overly generous with the Folie de Janvier, as they can’t shift the bloody stuff! It’s a very niche product, ISTR the 2010 first made an appearance on their website in about 2012, and was still there late last year when I placed my last order. I suspect the 2014 may be last of it’s kind, whilst the mother cuvée the Quintessence du Petit Manseng will soldier on for a while…it appears to be a dying style, and is economically unviable).