I feel I’ve set everyone a bit of a shopping challenge by including this grape. It is a bit of a rarity on the shelves but I think it is worth seeking out.
Marsanne is a grape that originates from the Rhone; typically as a blending grape in Northern Rhone whites like Hermitage, Saint-Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage. It can also be found in a few new world outposts like Australia or California.
The reason I wanted to include it is because in the spirit of grape adventures, I think it is a lovely and characterful choice. It has a voluptuous feel, with ripe pear, sweet spice and a marzipan richness. With age it can become more honey’d and fragrant. It is often blended with Roussanne with Rhone versions which adds a nice perfumed dimension to the profile.
New world versions can be even more generous in flavours, Tahbilk winery in Australia is most famous for this. The fruit becomes more tropical in these styles and they have been proven to age wonderfully.
Marsanne is a bit of a blighter to grow. It can easily over ripen, become high in alcohol, with neutral flavours and almost no acidity. So producers tend to pick it early, that can leave a little green flavour in some of the grapes which can add a nice herbaceous bite to the style. The older vines in the Rhone tend to be more balanced and less prone to this problem.
Viognier, Roussanne, Verdelho,
France: Rhone, Savoie
USA: California (Monterey, Santa Barbara), Washington State
Other: Canada, New Zealand
Crab, Thai green curry, chicken and leek pie, pesto & pasta