Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One of Our Nine Rhône Varietals – Marsanne

In 2005, after much analysis, Amy Butler, our winemaker, and I went about the task of laying out the vineyard to plant our six Rhône varietals, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. We selected a perfect location in a back block of our property where the soil was rich in limestone to plant our one and one-half acres of Marsanne. After three years of tending our new vines, watering, pruning, training and praying to “Mother Nature”, it was now time to reap a little “fruits of our long labor”! We may have only picked ¾ of a ton last harvest… not a lot in the great scheme of things, but an important beginning for our Estate Wine program. This fruit will yield great softness and rich texture, with those slight flavor hints of mineral, stone fruits, almond and tuberose. This will make a stellar addition to our already elegant Blanc du Rhône.

If you are not familiar with Marsanne, it is a white grape varietal, most commonly found in the northern Rhône Valley of France, where it is often blended with Roussanne, another white Rhône grape. It is the predominate variety used in the production of the famous white Crozes-Hermitage and the sparkling and still St. Péray white wines. Marsanne is not permitted in the white Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines found in the southern Rhône Valley, although it is one of the eight white varieties permitted in the Rhône Valley’s Côtes du Rhône. The six permitted Châteauneuf-du-Pape white varietals are Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Picardin, Picpoul and Roussanne.

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