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The Chloé Grandpierre Column no5

Queen Tahiti Pineapple Dry White

Invented by Jean-Michel Monot after the tasting of an Australian mango 'wine' with his Wine Club, the Blanc sec d'Ananas (Pineapple Dry White) cannot be called ‘wine’ not being made with grapes but with the Queen Tahiti pineapple variety.

Jean-Michel is the General Manager for the two companies: Jus de Fruits Moorea Ltd (Mo’orea is the sister island of Tahiti) and Manutea Tahiti Ltd in French Polynesia. It was decided in 2007 to create a 'wine' with the pineapples from Mo’orea - a difficult challenge because the pineapple is hard to ferment. In Hawaii they tried but had to add some flavours so the taste is quite different from that of real pineapple.

What then is this new creation?
Is the real taste of the Queen Tahiti recognisable?
And with what can we drink this Pineapple Dry White?

"I found my treasure island. I found it in my inner being, in my meetings, in my work", Hugo Pratt

The pineapple crossed mountains and oceans. Coming from South America, the fruit was brought back by explorers to be introduced to the Western world. There are three different pineapple families in the world: Cayenne, Queen and Spanish.

In Tahiti, it's the Queen which grows. This pineapple has small, prickly leaves. The fruit is bright yellow with a highly-flavoured clear and sugary flesh. French Polynesia is the cradle of the Queen Tahiti where it readily grows due to the climate and the soil conditions.

The soil is red from the ancient volcano caldera in Mo’orea, at the foot of the Mount Rotui where the climate is humid and hot. 30,000 plants per hectare are grown. Every five years they are replanted in order to continue to provide excellent quality fruit. Polynesians love this incredible fruit: as fresh juice, simply as slices, as a cocktail with rum or as a liqueur and now as 'wine'.

To create this Pineapple Dry White, the best fruits are chosen. The alcoholic fermentation is completed with the addition of yeasts for about 10 days. A cellar with barrels is reserved for some special cuvées. The lees are stirred to kill the yeasts in the Taransaud barrels. Finally, fining and clarification take place before bottling.

Blanc sec d'Ananas, Queen Tahiti, Manutea Tahiti 2012
A nice shiny lemon colour, even a colour which reminds one of Mo’orea pineapple! The nose is all pineapple. Alcohol is strong but as the flavours are also powerful, the mix is well-balanced. There are also discreet aromas of candied lemon, grapefruit and almond paste.

The second nose is rich yet tart. Once again there is fresh pineapple but also pineapple sorbet. There is also a mix of white flowers and green fruits. It is fresh and perfumed.

On the palate, it is totally dry which is curious because I was waiting for a little bit of sugar in this pineapple drink. It is fresh with a slight bitterness. The long pineapple taste is no longer a surprise. Notes of peach and apricot appear. With the long finish is a mix of litchi, rose and pineapple. Queen Tahiti is really recognisable!

Take note though that it is a dry drink. It is a real surprise because with 10% of alcohol there is no impression of sugar which is a challenge as it reduces the opportunities for food matching. This 'wine' is not drinkable as an aperitif because of its high acidity. However with fishes and fruity deserts I believe it to be perfect. In Tahiti, it is drunk with raw fish and a vanilla salsa Mahi-Mahi.

Apparently to come is a Pineapple Sparkling White (for Christmas?) and there is also a special cuvée of this Pineapple Dry White aged in oak barrels!

Chloé Grandpierre
Professionnel du Vin

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