Much has been said about how a small group of dedicated vignerons saved Bianco Gentile from extinction. What hasn’t been discussed much is that, while we know the variety is native Corsican and was once widely planted, we really don’t know how it was used and what kind of wine it made. Over the last decade or two, growers have been getting reacquainted with this long-lost friend, figuring out its strengths and weaknesses and how to tease out its greatness. Vermentinu, by contrast, has been around uninterrupted in the Mediterranean just about as long as the wheel. Its charms—the saltiness, the verve, the island essence—have been known to all for ages. Bianco Gentile has been on a learning curve, and in wine, that process can take years (generations, even), so we are watching it unfold as we speak. There’s only one harvest a year, a single chance to see, taste, and experiment each cycle. Part of that learning process concerns the interaction of grapes with each other, the art of blending so that the diversity makes a more complete whole. A key to understanding Bianco Gentile’s past may be hidden here in this blend. Kermit noticed early on Bianco Gentile’s tendency to veer toward the plump, round, rich side of the spectrum. So he and Antoine Arena decided to blend together a tank of Vermentinu and a tank of Bianco Gentile. Half and half, as one isn’t better than the other, they’re simply so different. Like a great bassist or a great guitarist, or a world-class tenor compared to a soprano. Neither is better per se, but the two performing together perhaps provides the richest experience. The two grapes work so well together we have to wonder if this was the way things were done back in the day. Given Antoine’s enthusiasm, we may well see a lot more of this blending in the future. Notice the new label, too, which is fittingly inspired by a label Antoine’s father once used. To show his appreciation of Kermit for encouraging the blend, Arena has named it “Cuvée Kermit Lynch” and given us full exclusivity on the wine. The only place you can try it is here—or maybe at the domaine, if you have the good fortune to go there, and if they haven’t drunk the last of their personal stock already.
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