Last Updated on August 23, 2019.
Roussanne Grape Variety & Wine Profile
Roussanne is one of the main white grapes of the Rhône Valley in France. It can be somewhat similar to its Northern Rhône blending partner, Marsanne but the differences are profound enough to make them perfect together.
Roussanne is characterized by bright floral aromas with stone fruit, nuts, baked bread, and spices. On the palate, its rich texture opens up notes of chamomile, sweet anise, white peach, pear, beeswax, and lanolin with surprising acidity on the finish. The combination of acidity and weight provides a silky texture that Roussanne-devotees find to be irresistible.
Since Roussanne is more acidic than Marsanne, it has the potential to age 15 to 20 years. It does have the tendency to shut down for several years after the first few so those looking to age Roussanne-based wines should be in it for the long haul.
Food Pairing Roussanne-based Wines
That acidity is what makes Roussanne both age-worthy and a very versatile food partner. Although still on the richer side, it can work with a range of seafood, chicken, duck, salmon, and turkey. Roussane can even work well with pork depending on the preparation. Roasted squash and fall vegetables also work beautifully with Roussanne because they play off the nutty-spicy notes found in the wine.
Wine Growing Regions for Roussanne
Roussanne is thought to originally hail from the Northern Rhône Valley. Its very name comes from “roux,” a French reference to the reddish hue that fully ripened grapes develop. It is still one of the main grapes of the Northern Rhône, particularly in Saint-Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint-Péray. In the Southern Rhône, it’s one of the main white grapes for Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhône blancs.
Similar to Marsanne and Viognier, Roussane can also be found throughout Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, but it’s seldom the star of the show there. Throughout southern France, it’s most like to be one of many white grapes in field blends.
Interestingly, Roussanne is also a main white grape in the much-colder region of Chignin in the Savoie AOC. There, it’s known as Bergeron and produces much higher acid and highly aromatic wines.
Beyond France, Roussanne can be found throughout the Central Coast of California, mostly thanks to Tablas Creeks and John Alban’s efforts to plant more Rhône varietals in California. Washington has begun to plant more Roussanne as well. Globally, there are increased plantings in Australia, South Africa, and Israel.
Check out some of these Roussanne and Roussanne-based blends from around the world:
- Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieille Vignes, Rhône Valley, France
- Eric Texier Brézème, Côtes du Rhône, Rhône Valley, France
- Black Sheep Finds Holus Polus, Santa Barbara County, California
- Qupé, Bien Nacido Hillside Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, California
- Kinero Cellar’s Rustler, James Berry Vineyard, Willow Creek District, Paso Robles, California
- Ben Haines Wine Co, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
- Andrew Rich, Columbia Valley, Washington
Learn More About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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Roussanne Tasting Notes
Fruit: Stone Fruits, White Peach, Pear
Earth & Additional Nuances: Herbal Tea, Nuts, Baked Bread, Spice, Chamomile, Sweet Anise, Beeswax, Lanolin
The Structure and Style of Roussanne Wines
Alcohol High (13% - 15.5%)
Squash and Pumpkin can make for a fun Roussanne food pairing.