Another obscure variety that is grown mainly in the mountainous eastern France towards the border of Switzerland, Mondeuse Noire or simply Mondeuse is a natural mutation from Mondeuse Blanche, which makes it a likely grandparent to the more famous international variety of Syrah. Some have associated this late-ripening and fairly vigorous variety with the Italian Refosco dal Penduncolo in the past but this has been proven untrue by DNA analysis.
Highly susceptible to mildews and drought, this variety thrives best on stoney, limestone based soil, and preferably on mountain slopes where drainage is excellent. As a late ripener, it will require sufficient sunshine to fully ripen its crop or the wines produced will be very acidic and out of balance. By and large, most well-made Mondeuse wines these days are aromatic, slightly tannic, plump, almost always well-coloured (as more and more producers use new oak barrels) and age-worthy given its high acidity retention.
If you're the kind of wine drinker who prefers light to medium bodied, juicy, easy-drinking and thirst-quenching reds, Mondeuse has plenty to offer, especially if you love the lighter styles of Gamay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard and Syrah! And in our humble opinion, an excellent choice for our warm tropical climate in Singapore.
We opened a bottle of Jacques Maillet's 2012 Chautagne version recently with some lobster mac & cheese prepared by a friend, and it was a heavenly match! Instead of the bitter-cherry notes one usually get from Mondeuse, this version is more about a plethora of fresh red berries, red plums, red currants, raspberries, spice and light earthy tones once the wine woke up from its slumber and its initial reductive tones dissipated (after 20-30min in a decanter, and we highly recommend it). Very lithe, almost transparent and nimble with a laser like acid backbone that cut through the Gruyère, Comté and matured Cheddar based sauce in the mac & cheese. Eggplant parmigiana (try da Luca's version), Vietnamese bánh cuốn (rice rolls with fillings), salted egg yolk prawns, pork ribs king and Moonlight Hor Fun (by KEK) will work wonderfully too we reckon.
Two more weeks to go (hopefully) until the end of Singapore's Phase 2 Heightened Alert mode, so keep calm and drink some Mondeuse!