We tasted: Tahbilk Marsanne 2010, Fortnum & Mason, £16.50
Emma says: “Here I am, just home from a work night out and feeling like a large glass of water to dilute the results. Sadly this isn’t going to be the case, 52 Grapes must take priority, especially since this week I had to go to a special effort to search out this rare grape from a shop in London.
I’ve only tasted this wine a few times in my life and it is certainly distinct. If you’ve tasted a mature Semillon from Australia the experience is similar. Andy thought it was oaked and I know exactly why. The ageing characters that come from this grape give a distinct smoky, spicy and candle wax character that is similar to the aromas you get when a wine is oaked. So much so, that I decided to google the wine to make sure I was correct and it really didn’t have oak. I think Andy still thought I was fibbing.
In total the experience of tasting this wine really lived up to expectations. It has a brilliant vibrancy of fruit, tropical in character with lime, pineapple aromas along with that waxy and smokey note. Then to taste it has more of the zesty lime, a bit of mango and papaya along with a creamy richness and that similar waxy overtone. It feels like a dry Riesling that isn’t as pithy or acidic and more soft in tropical fruit but with equal dimension. It makes me wish more people would have a play with Marsanne, it is a grape with real character that is overlooked and would add more interest to the wine world. And what an age worthy grape, given it has eight years of age, this wine is still showing real vibrancy of fruit that is really impressive.”
Andy says: “My initial reaction was, ‘Well, that’s got some oak on it’. How wrong I was.
This example is their ‘Museum Release’, which means the wine is held back until it begins to age, and the wine becomes richer and rounder. The results of the ageing can fool an amateur taster like myself that the wine had sat in some oak.
Emma came home and I said ‘It’s very oaky’. She had one sip, ‘Hmmm, no I think it’s age’. It was quite annoying, but hopefully it was prior knowledge of the grape/winery and not some sort of super hero skill.
Taste wise, I was a little disappointed at first as there wasn’t much going on. It was just flat and dull, and very linear, no peaks or troughs at all. But, it was fresh out the fridge, and once it had warmed a little it opened up and I could get the spicy honeysuckle notes that the tasting notes say you should. Slightly oily in texture, and quite dry too. It could do with a bit more zing for me, but a very nice wine all in all, and good test for a noob.”
Marsanne is a grape that heralds from the Rhone region of France. In the Northern Rhone it takes centre stage party blended with Roussanne; look out for St Joseph or Hermitage whites for this style, be warned they are pricey. For this reason we will seek out a producer in Australia known for this this grape, Tahbilk. They make a 100% Marsanne that will give us the best chance to really taste its character.