A native of the Hermitage, Marsanne grapes are believed to have originated in the town of Marsanne in the Northern Rhone Valley (where it is widely planted to this day).
A white grape that becomes a rich gold color when ripe, Marsanne produces powerful, floral wines which develop a nuttiess or hazelnut character with age. It's a vigorous vine that thrives in warm, rocky soils from which it imbues mineral and stone notes.
Marsanne moved from its native France into Australia in the 1860, where the warmer climate proved to be more agreeable to the grape. Australia now produces roughly 80% of the world's Marsanne.
Though it prefers, and yields prolifically in warm, stony soils, Marsanne is found in cooler climates as well. Marsanne produced in cooler climates has the potential to be one of the most ageable whites, however, if grown in a location that is too cool, the grapes may not fully ripen and will be bland in flavor.
Varietal Marsannes are commonly dry, with hints of nut and spice, rich and full-bodied. They'll develop darker gold hues and flavors become more complex with age, and may take on a concentrated, oily or honeyed texture. Less commonly sweet Marsannes are produced - this usually employs the "straw" method: drying grapes on straw mats before pressing their sweet, raisin-like juice.
Marsanne makes an ideal blending grape because of its moderate acids and potential to high alcohol. It's frequently found blended with Roussane, as in white wines from the Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint Joseph regions (it is not one of the white grapes permitted in Chateauneuf du Pape).
Marsanne produces wines that are deeply colored, with notes of melon, spice, and flowers. When aged their color intensifies, and wines become increasingly complex and exotic with viscous or honeyed texture.
PRODUCERS: UNITED STATES
White Oak Vineyard, Fair Play AVA
Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River
David Girard Vineyard, El Dorado