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Often associated with Roussanne, Marsanne is an important white grape variety to France’s Rhône Valley region.
Frequently deemed as Roussanne’s less moody counterpart, Marsanne has an important presence in France’s Rhône region, where it likely finds its origins. In addition to being the most widely cultivated white variety in Hermitage, Marsanne is also a key player in the white wines of Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Péray, and Saint-Joseph. Unlike Roussanne, Marsanne is not permitted in the white wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Outside of France, the grape is taking ground in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States.
Similar to Roussanne, choosing the precise pick date for Marsanne is crucial, as it is prone to overripening and losing acidity in warmer climate conditions. When acidity is not preserved, Marsanne-based wines can become flabby and bland, though when picked and vinified at the right hands, these wines show beautiful and rich flavours of pear, stone fruit, honeysuckle, and sweet spice. As Marsanne ages, the wine begins to take on a darker hue and nuttier flavours. Concentrated flavours of honey and grilled nuts are also not uncommon in aged Marsanne.
On the vine, Marsanne is quite vigorous and tends to prefer stony soils. Compared with Roussanne, Marsanne tends to be less aromatic, which is why the two varieties are frequently blended together. Marsanne is also often blended with Viognier and/or Grenache Blanc. Popular synonyms for the grape include Ermitage, Ermitage Blanc, Marsana, Grosse Roussette, and White Hermitage.