Marsanne


Marsanne is a grape varietal from the northern Rhone Valley of France. Marsanne usually portrays the role of rounding out the acidity in the white wines produced of it's partner grape Roussanne. If you have enjoyed Rhone Valley whites, they frequently contain both grapes as well as Viognier. In the last several years Marsanne has found a home in the new world, and we now have the opportunity to taste the grape in 100% varietal composition. Well, maybe there will still be 10-15% Roussanne blended in, but that is not uncommon practice in any varietal labelled wine. These new world Marsanne are most frequently found in California and Washington.

In California, it thrives in the hotter zones, especially around Paso Robles where winemakers really enjoy creating Rhone inspired wines. From red GSM's to varietal specific whites made of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Marsanne, in Paso Robles, makes a full bodied wine, lower acidity, but not flabby. Fruit aromas of citrus, especially orange and orange zest, earthy nutty truffle aromatics are common as well. Marsanne has not enjoyed immediate recognition as a monovarietal wine, and that is okay. It's gradual growth in popularity has allowed the winemakers to patiently practice with production process. I have seen it produced most frequently with little to no oak in the production process. Although the juice has the body to sustain oak ageing, the aromas would sadly be stifled, or at least altered if oak was employed. I believe as Marsanne continues to grow in popularity it would be likely we will see some producers trying oak ageing to create an even weightier white.

In Washington, where every grape is planted and experimented with, Marsanne benefits from cooler evenings, and slightly greater acidity retention. These are my preferred new world styles, because they are weighty, but plenty of food pairing tangy acidity.

Victoria, Australia also has a fair amount of Marsanne planted to vine these days, though I can't say how much gets out of the country before it is consumed locally by thirsty Aussies. I was in Victoria in February 2020, and meant to find out who was shipping over here, but was sidetracked learning about the Pinot Noir in the Mornington Peninsula, guess I'll have to go back...



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