Of all the metrics by which connoisseurs measure wine, where does comfort fit in? I found myself thinking about this the other day while sipping the 2016 Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc and staring at my tasting notes for it. Something was missing in my description: an adjective to capture why it was resonating with me so much.
Then it hit me: the wine was comforting. It put on no airs. It challenged me in no way. It just … was.
Hailing from the Ventoux region of Southern France, the 2016 Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc is 80% Roussanne and 20% Clairette. If you are unfamiliar with either of these grapes, I suggest you look into them. The white wines I’ve enjoyed from the Southern Rhône — many of them founded on Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and/or Viognier — are among France’s great sleepers for fine wine, and I’d count this one in that lot.
Part of the appeal with the Quinessence Blanc came from its full, enveloping texture and bright tones recalling quince, pineapple, ginger and violets with a faint but noticeable sour tang. It was muted on the nose, but I didn’t mind because it seemed twice as expressive on the palate. Sometimes a wine renders the whole take-notes-and-score-the-details endeavor as silly.
Regrettably, I have to inform you that this wine is produced in small amounts, to which you are probably saying damnit, Kevin. Again? Yes, I do seem to have an affinity for the hard-to-find, but I’ll be covering more white wines from the Southern Rhône in the near future — some of which, I promise, are more widely circulated. In the meantime, wine.com has the previous vintage if you want to snag it. It would make for a great Thanksgiving Day wine, especially if your pregame routine is snitching from the carving platter.
2016 Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc
Ventoux AOC (Southern Rhône)
Grapes: Roussanne (80%) and Clairette (20%)
Practices: (Organic) and (Biodynamic)
Rating: ★★★★ 3/4 (out of five)
• Food-friendliness: Versatile
• Value: As expected
Importer: European Cellars
Tasting notes: This wine has such a mellow and mild nose, it is deceiving. But on the palate it bursts with energy and flavor, recalling quince, pineapple, ginger, violets and a note that reminded me of the tart-meets-sour tang you get from yogurt. Just enough acidity to keep the wine active and alert on the palate, but this is not a wine to challenge your tooth enamel. Texturally full and, yes, comforting. Turn off the mind, pour another glass.
Serving suggestion: Keep it simple. We served this wine with burchetta, a soft-boiled egg and a salad, and I was thrilled with the combination. Don’t worry too much about temperature of this wine as well — it’s texture is so luscious that serving it chilled would be thrilling in its own way.
Note: This wine was provided as a sample from Rhône Valley Vineyards and their public relations firm. Learn more about my editorial policy regarding samples.
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