BBC Good Food Wine Club tasting notes
Explore the world’s best grape varieties with Henry Jeffreys and BBC Good Food Wine Club – this month, Marsanne.
Marsanne is a grape variety of French origin, but it’s much better known in its adopted home of Australia, where wine producer Tahbilk in Victoria has the largest planting of Marsanne vines in the world. Back in France, it’s the grape of the northern Rhône, where it’s blended with Roussanne to produce some of the country’s greatest white wines.
Visit the BBC Good Food Wine Club for the latest offer.
Need to know
Along with its sister variety Roussanne, Marsanne is the white grape of Hermitage in France, producing long-lived and expensive wines.
As usual with France, the finest wines made from Marsanne won’t have the word on the label. If it comes from the northern Rhône area, like Saint-Péray, Crozes-Hermitage or Saint-Joseph, then it’s almost certainly a Marsanne-Roussanne blend.
Like Shiraz, Australians think of Marsanne as one of their own varieties. It has been grown there since the mid-19th century, and the oldest vines in the world are probably in Australia. Most Marsanne is a dry still wine, but sparkling wines are made from the variety in Saint-Péray and some producers make extremely rare sweet versions from dried grapes known as Vin de Paille.
Young Marsanne tends to taste of lemons, with some stone fruit, honey and orange blossom. It should also have a distinct texture and weight in the mouth.
The classic style in Victoria involves picking the grapes slightly underripe to preserve acidity, then bottling with no oak. Young, these taste fresh and citrussy, but after time in the bottle they blossom with notes of vanilla, toast, marzipan and honeysuckle. Northern Rhône Marsanne blends tend to be weighty, with fairly low acidity and often some oak ageing.
Dishes to try with Marsanne
Young Australian Marsanne is great with fish, so why not pair it with an impressive seafood paella? It also pairs well with strong-tasting vegetables like asparagus and soft cheeses. Perhaps the most excellent accompaniment would be our one-pan salmon with asparagus. Or, try a salmon & asparagus quiche. The heavier wines from the northern Rhône suit fattier foods, such as our slow-roasted pork shoulder with leeks, apricots & thyme.