Marsanne is a white wine grape that is native to the Hermitage area in the Rhone valley, France, where it is often blended with Roussanne. Unusually, white wines made using these grapes tend to improve with age, and when cellared properly will develop for up to 10 years. This grape can also be found growing in Australia, Switzerland, Spain and the United States.
This grape is thought to have originated in the Northern Rhone region. It is still widely planted here and is a principal grape in the production of wines from the Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint-Joseph AOC's.
Over time the grape made it's way to Switzerland, Australia Spain, and The United States and is still found growing in these countries. In Australia the grape was first planted in Victoria in the 1860's. In fact some of the Marsanne vines in the Tahbilk vineyard in Victoria date back to 1927, making them some of the oldest Marsanne vines in the world.
In France Marsanne is mainly planted in the Northern Rhone region. Outside of this region it can be found growing in Savoie and in the Languedoc.
Marsanne's major plantings outside of France can be found in:
Australia: the grape is mainly found growing in Victorian vineyards.
Switzerland: Marsanne is grown in Valais.
Spain: small amounts are planted in the Northeast
The United States: the main plantings can be found in California and Washington State.
This grape can be a little fussy, and will tend to underperform if conditions are not just right. In places that are too cool the grape will not fully ripen, and will produce a wine with a bland, neutral flavor. In climates that are too hot, the grape tends to over rippen, which produces flabby wines.
These wines tend to be deeply colored, with full, nutty, honey flavors with hints of spice and pear. With age these wines darken even more, with the flavors becoming more complex and concentrated. Young Marsanne pairs well with seafood and antipasto. When aged they pair well with roast chicken or veal.