Rousanne: Seven Reviews From the Field! Know This Varietal!!

With the price of decent burgundy reaching a day’s pay some of us have started looking elsewhere for delicious white wine. Not a fan of the Macon, whose offerings always seem too steely, I search for two other varietals: Riesling and Roussanne. While Riesling is made well everywhere BUT California, Roussanne is more difficult to find. In fact, my favorite store here in Connecticut, Mt. Carmel Wine & Spirits in Hamden CT, has none. Neither does anyone else around here, for that matter.

First, the facts. Roussanne appears to be a native to Southern France. It’s planted throughout the Rhone River valley, and in the Languedoc, as well. It’s fairly acidic, giving it years of life and evolution in the bottle. Hence, many red wine drinkers are lulled by its charm. It’s hard to grow, ripening (when it does) unevenly. Many growers in France have opted for Marsanne, a horribly dull wine, and Viognier, a tasty but somewhat uninteresting pour.

The taste? A honeysuckle, macoun apple, slight cardamom sensation with a lingering finish. Dry, yet almost sweet. It can be made into sensational dessert wine.

A common choice is to blend, which is perfectly fair, as long as 60 percent remains Roussanne. Vintners use Viognier, Marsanne and the heavy, alcoholic Grenache Blanc in their blends. All work, but if there is more than 20 percent Viognier, drink up soon. The Holy Grail of Roussanne is Ch√¢teau Beaucastel Ch√¢teauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Vielles Vignes. Parker routinely gives it a score of 147 or higher.

However, while California has bombed with Riesling, it fares much better with this warm weather grape. So does Australia, although the Ozzies also manage to produce quality Riesling.

1995 Ch√¢teau Beaucastel Ch√¢teauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, tasted 12 years ago in Montreal with spicy lobster. Great wine, until it was wiped out by the food. Like many white wines, enjoy this with a French washed-rind cheese. Note, this is not the VV, which perhaps you can afford.2.5 Mice.

 

2005 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc $40: Produced at the Paso Robles US Rhone outpost started by the Perrin brothers of Chateau Beaucastel and the legendary importer Robert Haas. tBoW digs this winery, and he poured this in December. A half bottle, it remained hidden for me and Mrs. Mouse. Has two or three good years left. Roussanne is so damn interesting. 14% 2 mice.

 

2006 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Rousanne $20: This ancient winery in South Africa makes some very good stuff, and this is no exception. It could be mistaken for a Chardonnay in a blind tasting if served too cold. But with time, it evolves into what it is. NOTE: open Roussanne an hour ahead of time, as you would a nice Mersault. 1.5 mice. About $20. In fact, almost all Roussanne I buy is about $20. Alcohol near 13%.

 

 

2006 d’Arenburg The Money Spider Rousanne $24: From the famous and highly regarded d’Arenberg winery in the McClaren Vale, Southern Australia. Even their Chardonnay is good. This has an old world acidity to it; I think it would last 10 years. Nice twist off cap, too. 1.5 mice.

 

 

 

2007 Stolpman Vineyards “L’Avion” Estate Santa Ynez Valley White $32: Sashi Mooreman, who came to California with no wine expertise, is now a hottie in Santa Ynez. This includes 10% Viognier, so it can age. On sale last month for… $20 at LA Wine House, but usually about $35. Farmed on deserted runway, hence the name. Best domestic I’ve had. Never tried John Alban’s, because it’s near $50, and he is supposedly the master. This is damn good. 2.5 mice.

 

 

2007 Domaine Alary La Grange Daniel Blanc $15 (WOW!). From Southern Rhone, near the Roman town of Orange. Meant to age. Lots of acid. This will hold up to many foods. 2009 is current release. Under $20! 1.5 mice.

 

 

 

2007 Alexandria Nicole Cellars Shepard’s Mark White Wine Destiny Ridge Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills $18: U20 wine from Horse Heaven Hills, Washington. 408 cases made, find one of them. A blend, 17 percent Viognier and 5 percent Marsanne. Dee-lish. Almost a bit coconutty. Improves in the glass. A fun wine find! 2 mice.

 

 

2007 Line Shack Roussanne, San Antonio Valley, Monterey County. Under $20. A textbook example of this wine. A bit fruity, a bit sweet, a bit dry, floral with a tad of Eastern spice. Not well known, yet. Get on board before price escalates. 1.5 mice.

 

 

 

 

While none of these wines earned a third mouse, none of them broke the bank, either. My prediction is that Roussanne will never achieve the popularity it deserves. White wine drinkers are not looking for complexity, it appears. They will err in thinking this is a sweet wine. Well, shrimp is sweet, but we don’t eat it for dessert.

Check out Roussanne. You’re worth it.

[ed. Guest blogger and tBoW team taster Mouse from the Least Coast distilled this perfectly informative and entertaining concoction FYI. Rousanne, apparently, is the white wine that separates the slobs from the snobs. Inescapable conclusion? We all need to hunt down and quaff more Rousanne. And here we have a contemporary and under-valued list of choices. Now we have an idea what to look for. How pleased I am knowing I have several vintages of the TC Esprit de Beaucastel in my cellar. Only question left is…can Rousanne grow in Malibu?]

3 Comments

  1. Wavatar
    igty says:

    what is this rousanne stuff? you can’t afford steak so you gonna eat hamburger helper right outta the box? rousanne is really a fine choice when you have an overpowering cheese to wash down or a really bad cold. otherwise stick with cheap burgundy whites—they’re still way better than this varietal. burgundy cheap red is undrinkable, and i understand migration to other grapes for cost reasons. whites—who cares? who drinks them anyway? white burgundy plonk is still drinkable burgundy, and way superior to equivalently priced rousanne. if you’re broke, thirsty and feeling adventurous get a perrier and savor the benzine aftertaste.

    • Wavatar
      martin glasser MOUSE says:

      Sir Igster,
      You seem to imply that a good $20 burg pours superior to all other wine wine? Certainly, this cannot be? The wine map offers so many choices….

  2. Wavatar
    MOUSE says:

    An addeundum to the roussanne post:

    2007 Sanford Winery Flor de Campo – This is certainly a tasty effort, but the $48 price tag defies all logic. The problem involves the blend; it’s 40 percent viognier, which is too much. The complexity of the roussanne is lost to the floral component of the viognier. Stolpman Vineyard puts the breaks on at 10 percent. It could have been a great wine… One Mouse

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