Description 1 of 2
Parentage of the grape: Unknown
History of the grape: Marsanne is native to the northern Rhone valley in France. There, it was the traditional blending partner of Roussanne, but has slowly been taking over because of its greater reliability. It is becoming the primary variety in appellations such as St-Joseph, St-Peray, and Crozes-Hermitage. The role of Roussanne had been to bring acidity to the blend, since Marsanne can be flabby, but when grown in the right place, picked at the right time, and not overcropped, Marsanne can produce balanced wines. This variety also produces excellent wines in Switzerland and in nearby Savoie, where it is known as Grosse Roussette. Marsanne is used in blends throughout the Languedoc, but is not one of the varieties allowed in Chateauneuf du Pape. In Australia, this variety produces excellent, ageworthy wines, and “Rhone Rangers” such as Randall Grahm have had a lot of success with it in California.
Characteristics of the grape: full-bodied, rich in texture, high in alcohol, low in acidity, with aromas of honeysuckle, almonds, and quince
Regions where the grape currently is important: the northern Rhone, Switzerland, Savoie, Australia’s Victoria region, California
Type or types of wines the grape produces: Marsanne is typically made into full-bodied, dry table whites, most notably in St-Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and St-Peray in France’s northern Rhone Valley. Most should be drunk within a couple of years of release, but some ages well, gaining complexity and taking on a dark gold color. In Switzerland’s Valais region, it can make sweet wines as well.
Description 2 of 2
Probably originating in the northern Rhone, Marsanne’s popularity has been increasing in Europe, as well as in North America and Australia. It is highly productive and in the past long-barrel aging produced a wine that needs years in bottle before drinking. Today, through modern winemaking techniques, it is being produced on its own, as a characterful wine that is deeply-colored and full-bodied, with notes of honeysuckle and almonds. Often, it is also blended to add roundness to the more aromatic, acidic varietals, such as Roussanne, Rolle and Viognier. California’s Rhone Rangers have taken an interest in this varietal and Victoria region of Australia produces old-vine Marsanne that can be exquisite.
Physically, you’re big and a bit on the clumsy side; some even say you’re tad dumb! But what a great personality – is it oafish charm? Something must have attracted Rousanne, your longtime companion. For years, your elegant and sharp-witted spouse has been there to bail you out of trouble. Apart from some solo philandering Downunder, you have relied on her company for most of your adventures in the New World, with a few incidents of infidelity forgiven. Your biggest attribute may be your biggest flaw – a tendency to finish a hard days work heavy into the alcohol, and that's when you get really dumb. Just remember not to stray too far from Rousanne's sobering influence. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)
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