Marsanne, a venerable white wine grape variety, boasts a rich history rooted in the picturesque Rhône Valley. Named after a commune near Montélimar in the Drôme region of the northern Rhône, Marsanne’s journey has expanded globally, finding a home in Savoie, Switzerland, Australia, and the United States. Its birthplace is shrouded in the charm of the Rhône Valley, where it has thrived for centuries.
The Rhône Valley tradition is deeply entwined with Marsanne, often blended with the aromatic Roussanne and internationally paired with Viognier. Together, Marsanne and Roussanne create the essence of white wines in Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, as well as the sparkling whites of Saint-Péray. These grapes, alongside Grenache Blanc and Viognier, contribute to the luscious white Côtes du Rhône wines.
Marsanne’s adaptability extends to diverse climates. While hot regions challenge its acidity, cooler climates yield complex and age-worthy wines. The grape’s vigor finds a perfect match in poor stony soils, enhancing its unique characteristics.
The wines crafted from Marsanne exhibit a spectrum of sensory delights. In their youth, they showcase straw-like hues with fleeting golden-green glints. Aromas dance with earthy minerality, lifted by notes of honeysuckle and melon. The taste is a delicate interplay of weight and structure, with dry styles prevailing but sweet variations, like Chapoutier’s Hermitage Vin de Paille, standing as testaments to Marsanne’s versatility.
Australia, particularly Victoria and South Australia, embraced Marsanne in the 1860s. The Tahbilk winery, with vines dating back to 1927, stands as a testament to Marsanne’s longevity. Here, aged Marsanne develops deep amber colors and indulgent flavors reminiscent of nuttiness and orange marmalade, creating an exquisite legacy for this globally cherished grape.