Roussanne is a white grape believed to have originated in the Rhone Valley of France. The berries themselves have a reddish-brown skin at maturity and are unusual in that, due to structure and acidity, varietal and blended bottlings of Roussanne are one of the only white wines to age well.
Most of the world’s Roussanne is still grown in the Rhone Valley (it’s one of only six white grapes permitted in CdP), and are most often used in the cellar as a blending grape.
Roussanne is known as a difficult grape to cultivate; it requires a long growing season and produces sporadic and generally low yields, has a high susceptibility to powdery mildew (and therefore prefers a warm, dry climate). However, when gown successfully in cooler climates, its characteristics are floral and delicate with higher acidity; grown in warm climates, Roussanne produces rich, full bodied wines with honied, fruitful flavors.
As a blending grape Roussanne brings a full-bodied richness that is often compared to that of red wines. Often combined with Marsanne, such as in the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint Joseph, Roussanne lends acidity, elegance and intense aromatics of herbal tea and flowers.
Varietal Roussannes are elegant and well-balanced, characterized by floral and herbal tea aromas, flavors of melon, white fruit, blossoms and pears.
Roussanne vines are now grown in Crete, Italy, Spain and Australia, and were introduced to California largely thanks to the Rhone Rangers efforts in the 1980s. Most planted acres of Roussanne stateside can be found on California’s Central Coast AVA, thought it’s been grown successfully in Yuba County, Texas, and experimentally in Washington State.
Roussanne produces rich and balanced wines often more reminiscent of a red than a white. Aromas of herbal tea and blossoms, with pear, honey, and white fruit flavors characterize these wines.
PRODUCERS: UNITED STATES
Alban Estate Vineyards
Bien Nacido Hillside Estate
Stolpman Vineyards, Ballard Canyon
Saralee's Viineyard, Russian River
James Berry Vineyard
Zaca Mesa Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley
Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley