Marsanne

Marsanne

Pronunciation = Marsanne (mar-sar-ne) 

It is always a pleasure to write about one of our favourite grapes Marsanne. It is pretty special and doesn’t find itself in the ‘well known’ bracket amongst Australian wine drinkers very often, listed in wine shows as an alternative varietal.

Marsanne is one of the world’s rarest grape varieties originating in the Northern Rhone and Hermitage regions of France.  It is grown in only 3 other countries, Australia, America and Switzerland. Tahbilk holds the largest and oldest single planting of the variety in the world.

Tahbilk’s history with Marsanne is traced back to the 1860’s with the sourcing of ‘White Hermitage’ cuttings from the ‘St Hubert’s’ Vineyard in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. The grape was Marsanne and although none of these plantings have survived, the Estate still produces Marsanne from plantings dating back to 1927.

Tahbilk Marsanne has a dedicated worldwide following due to its marvelous character, complexity and ability to team wonderfully with food at all stages of development. With the longevity to cellar for up to 15 years of age, this grape certainly wins the hearts of wine aficionados.

Also unique to Tahbilk is the range of ways we use the grape. From a light and dry ‘Sparkling’ best served as an aperitif to the more complex ‘1927 Vines’ Marsanne. Have your hard, tasty cheese at the ready.

Let’s pause for a moment on the 1927 Vines Marsanne as it is particularly exceptional in both quality and style. Produced from the Estate’s single 1927 Marsanne plantings Tahbilk’s first dedicated release was from the 1998 Vintage. Until 1998 the fruit from these vines formed part of the whole of Estate Marsanne blend.

A decision in 1998 to harvest the 1927 plantings separately and to pick them early to retain their higher natural acidity was brought about with a view to produce a wine that would only be released 10 years after bottling, or when it has won a trophy. With this special wine the magic happens as it develops slowly over time to reveal the beauty that lies hidden inside.

I guess you may be wondering what to expect when you try this delicious drop.

When young the nose and palate exhibit intense aromas and flavours of lemon, peach and tropical fruits with dry mineral raciness.  As the wine ages in the bottle it will develop complex flavours of honeysuckle, a character traditionally associated with Marsanne. The colour will gradually change from a pale yellow to a rich golden colour, often confusing an aged Marsanne with a sweet wine, which is not the case. With time the wine develops a rich and savoury palate.

Marsanne has a similar weight to Semillon and Riesling and is best paired with most seafood, shellfish and oysters. The Marsanne’s fresh acidity will add to the delicate flavours of most seafood dishes and an aged Marsanne with a little bit more depth and complexity will go fantastic with fresh traditional Thai dishes as well as green curries and Indian dishes.

4 Comments

  1. I have 1987 Marsanne. It has been stored upright in a room temperature cupboard. There are some ‘floaties’ through it. My question is whether this will be alright or not.
    Thanks,
    Shane

    1. Author

      The answer is no, it would most likely be heavily oxidised. Standing upright the cork would have dried out years ago so a heap of air would have entered the wine by this stage. Unfortunate – if lying down and the colour was ok we’d say drink away! But not in this case.

  2. Hello
    I just bought a Marsanne 2017 at the LCBO (Ontario Liquor store) and the label if would be good until 2030. What do you think. I was really surprised as Im more used to aging reds. If thats the case I will grab the other bottle, have one now and drink one later !

    Thanks
    Sincerely,

    Melanie Ouellet

    1. Hello Melanie,
      Thank you for your enquiry. Yes, Tahbilk Marsanne ages beautifully, and this is Marsanne’s most amazing attribute. The flavour will change remarkably over time as does the colour and you’ll be quite surprised by the result! The bottle you purchased will cellar to 2030, however the flavours will change year on year. The trick is to open it when it’s just right for you!

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