2011 Menage a Trois California White Blend

“Whatever you have, spend less.”………….. Samuel Johnson

The problem any reviewer has in “recommending” (take that to mean even just writing about) a wine is that out of any twelve people asked, six will like the wine, four will not and two will – but won’t admit to it. The latter is especially so when the wine is budget friendly and lacking the cachet so important to wine snobs.

Menage a Trois is a bold, citrus forward wine, and it’s definitely new world in style. It is not a Chassagne or Puligny-Montrachet  (chardonnay).   It is not a Vouvray (chenin blanc), and it is not a muscat (name your own favorite moscato).  What it is, is a quaffable citrus forward wine that is definitely budget friendly and so lacking in cachet.  

It is a “marriage of three” different grapes (menage a trois) - the three grapes above- and the result offers a taste experience that is different than what would otherwise be found in tasting the individual varietals.  Different is not better, nor is it worse.  It is simply different.  Differences, by the way, even within the same varietal can be created by how the juice is treated: whether it is fermented in stainless, aged in oak, completely fermented or not, allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation, rest on its lees, and with other decisions the winemaker makes.  So when someone invariably just has to tell me why such and such is just so much better, I like to remind them it’s a big world that can support many tastes.      

Menage a Trois is from the Folie a Deuce (“a passion shared by two”) winery which harvests each of the three varieties separately (different ripening times) and cold ferments them in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve fruit and freshness. The percentage of each grape and its contribution to the blend follows:    

Chardonnay (44%)   tastes of dry, green apple, tropical fruit, lemon, pineapple

Muscat Alexandria  (34%)  an ancient vine (used for moscato in Italy) sweet, earthy, but not particularly aromatic

Chenin Blanc (22%)  fruity with a touch of sweetness. soft, round flavors hinting at pear, melon, apricot, peaches and fruit cocktail syrup. The grape of Vouvray, can be made in a wide range of style and sweetness.

In the glass, Menage a Trois displays the color of pale straw. The nose is strong with citrus, particularly (for me) lemon and a hint of peach. The taste offered a blend of orange-lemon, with peach hints and pineapple.  Some people detect grapefruit. The wine is smooth with a crisp, slightly acid-tart finish despite it being semi-dry.

The grapes are Napa Valley grown. Folie a Deux is in Oakville; both good pedigrees. But Menage a Trois doesn’t play on this and put forth any pretensions. In fact, their own material refers to their blends (they make several) being “intriguing and playful.”  I would agree. And in addition to their marketing being refreshing, I would add the wine is too. Menage a Trois is a refreshing summer wines to enjoy on the patio while watching the sun go down on a beautiful evening. Its citrus character makes it suitable to enjoy alone.  But it’s also food friendly. It would make a good companion to a ham steak with rum-raisin sauce, or spicy Mexican food. Serve well chilled with musty cheeses. Pair it with white meat poultry, caramelized walnuts and tart raspberries.  At an ARP of $10, it’s friendly from any perspective.

…………………… Jim

Tech Specs:
Alc:                  13.4%
PH:                   3.33
Residual Sugar: 1.2g/100ml

Menage a Trois
7481 St Helena Hwy
Napa, CA 94558

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