Taste: Rich texture with aromas of hedgerow flowers and flavors of melon, peach and apricot. Oak adds additional honey, nut and spice flavors as the wine matures.
Dry / Sweet: Dry
Acidity: Low to medium
Age: Drink within a few years of release.
Aka: Also known as Hermitage Blanc, Ermitage, Grosse Roussette and Marsana.
Marsanne (MAHR-san) is a high quality grape variety native to the RhôneValley in France where it plays a leading role in the white wine blends of the Northern Rhône appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Saint-Péray. It is also grown in Languedoc-Roussillon and the Savoie region of eastern France, as well as in Switzerland, California and Australia.
In the Northern Rhône Marsanne is often blended with some Roussanne, which increases acidity and adds complexity. These two grape varieties complement each other extremely well and in the hands of a good winemaker produce some excellent wines. Further south in Languedoc-Roussillon Marsanne is often blended with Viognier and these wines tend to be slightly higher in alcohol.
In the vineyard Marsanne is a reliable grape to grow although it can be sensitive to temperature, needing the correct range – not too hot and not too cool – for the wines to be at their best. It also reacts unfavourably to over cropping, so good management is required.
Marsanne makes dry, full bodied wines with high alcohol and low to medium acidity giving them a rich texture. Delicate aromas of hedgerow flowers and honeysuckle combine with melon and stone fruit flavors of peach and apricot. It takes well to oak (but not too much new oak as it can overwhelm the personality of the wine) and develops more complex flavors of honey, nut and spice as it matures.
Marsanne makes wines of great character, both varietal and blended, that are best enjoyed within a few years of release. If you choose to store good quality Marsanne it is worth noting that it can go into a dull or dormant phase, emerging after about a decade as a lighter and more vibrant wine with a very different profile to when it was first released – still excellent, but less Rich in style.
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