Ondenc, Indigenous White of Gaillac


Ondenc Grapes Ampelography
Ondenc Illustrated by Jules Troncy (Source: Wikipedia)

Ondenc is one of the really obscure white grape varieties that is now mainly found in the Gaillac region located in the South West of France. Its relatively low yield and high susceptibility to rot and mildews have seen its total acreage dwindled from nearly 1600 hectares (planted) in the late fifties to a mere 19 hectares in 2018.


Having a name that's rather challenging to pronounce (at least for all the non French speakers) may well be one of its stumbling rocks in today's market too but we are seeing more and more of it being preserved and propagated, especially amongst the more progressive natural winemakers.


We tried a bottle of Domaine de Causse Marines "Dencon" 2015 made by Patrice Lescarret and Virginie Maignien last night, and the wine showed a brilliant deep yellow core colour filled with aromas of ripe lemons, bruised apples & pears, honey and butter toasted hazelnuts. On the palate, the yellow citrus character is more pronounced and perhaps a little brighter, with a light but distinctive bitter grapefruit peel & herbaceous note mingled with oxidative tones.

The rare Ondenc made by Causse Marines
Domaine de Causse Marines' "Dencon" 2015

We would have liked the wine to be a touch more acidic but it did provide sufficient tension to keep its rather high alcohol level in check without feeling flabby. Most importantly, the wine worked seamlessly with the mildly spicy but creamy chicken & potatoes Singapore curry we had. Smoked salmon, cold roe crabs, moules marinières, har jeong gai (prawn paste marinated fried chicken) and young jackfruit gulai will likely go very well with it too we reckon. Those who love to drink young dry Finos and Manzanillas while tapas hopping in Spain will find this wine pleasurable, as would wine drinkers who are in love with Arneis, Trebbiano and Vermentino from Italy. Do show Ondenc some love the next time you come across a bottle! It may not be the most flashy, the most popular or the trendiest thing to drink yet (given its minuscule worldwide production), but when they are well made, they are excellent accompaniments to food at the dinner table that can please almost everyone - the casual, conventional and obviously, the more adventurous wine drinkers.