In the Northern Rhone, fat, oily, Marsanne is usually blended with the more austere, elegant Roussanne to add texture and richness. But many wineries, including the highly regarded co-op Cave de Tain, bottle Marsanne as a single varietal where its virtues and vices can be clearly displayed.
A sensual wine with a big personality, heady fumes of honeysuckle, pineapple, tangerine, and marzipan mix with background hints of hay and anise to snare the senses with the ardent blossoming of summery perfume.
In the mouth it’s plump and waxy up with a touch of sweet, red apple and an oxidative note, but high-toned minerality commands attention and gives the wine lift riding a wave of tart acidity that keeps the wine buoyant. Ripe Marsanne can sometimes lack acidity but that’s not an issue here. The wine thins out rapidly after the gorgeous midpalate and the finish is quite tart, but there remains a gentle mouthcoating undercurrent even as the crackling, sour-lemon acid glow steers the somewhat awkward finish.
It progresses from rich and sensual to rousing and rhapsodic and then, tired of sustaining sensuality, it plays at being severe and puritanical. But it’s all an act; it can’t suppress its sunny, amiable disposition.
If you want to witness Marsanne at its best, this is a good place to start. The lush, sweeping, and chime-like piano of Keiko Matsui’s “Seeker” encouraged the sensual side to win out.
Notes: . Partial barrel fermentation, aged 8 months on the fine lees in 400 litre French oak barrels (with regular batonnage).
Price: $65 (Purchase here)