Hailing from France’s Rhône Valley, Roussanne produces wines that pack a serious punch. Along with Marsanne, it is the only other white variety permitted in the wines of Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint-Péray, and Saint-Joseph, as well as one of the six allowed in the famed white wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. However, the grape is taking ground far beyond France’s borders. Roussanne plantings are on the rise in South Africa, Australia, and the United States, particularly within the states of Texas, Washington, and California.
On the vine, Roussanne is late ripening and often quite irregular in the realm of yields. When ripe, the grapes take on a brown tinted hue. Roussanne can often be difficult to farm, as it is susceptible to various diseases, including powdery mildew. Although the variety prefers a long growing season, pick dates are crucial, as the fruit can very easily fall out of balance and lose its acidity. In the cellar, careful vinification is mandatory, as Roussanne’s juice can easily oxidize and turn brown.
In the glass, Roussanne-based wines are powerful and intense. When grown in warmer climates, the wines tend to show opulent flavors of stone fruit, pears, and honey. In cooler climate areas, Roussanne takes on a more floral side. Regardless of where it’s grown, Roussanne is generally always highly perfumed and medium to full in body.
Elsewhere in France, Roussanne is widely cultivated in Savoie, where it goes by the name Bergeron. Although generally consumed in their youth, when produced at the right hands, Roussanne-based wines from all over the globe have a strong potential to age.