Origins: the northern Rhône Valley
There is no certainty about the exact origin of this variety. For a long time, Roussanne has been found in the region of Tain l’Hermitage, in the Drôme department, and Saint Péray, in Ardèche. In Savoy, it is known as ‘Bergeron’. In the Rhône Valley, it is often used as a blend with Marsanne.
While it grows best in cool and damp climates, it can also be found in warmer places, such as the southern Côtes du Rhône. In cool climates, it develops a mineral and airy character in hot climates, it is more exotic, with fruity notes of Charentais melon and quince, for example.
Roussanne ripens in mid-season and likes chalky and poor soils. It does not stand up to wind very well and requires care to avoid ‘coulure‘ as well as the appearance of mildew and grey mould, two common grapevine diseases.
Used in blends (Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Bourboulenc, etc.), Roussanne adds density, texture and volume to white wines from the Rhône Valley.
Anthony Taylor explains :
“Its name is derived from its golden colour: when it ripens, it turns a beautiful russet colour. It is a variety that makes it possible to add complexity, particularly when blended with Grenache or Bourboulenc. Its sunny fruit aromas (pear, apricot, melon) and exotic notes give great character to the classic blends of the south. It also complements Viognier very nicely. Roussanne adds a considerable dimension of pleasure. This is one of the factors that explain the success of our white wines among consumers.”
Roussanne’s role at Maison Gabriel Meffre
This grape variety is used in most of our white wines. In our 2018 white Laurus Côte du Rhône, for example, it accounts for 23% of the blend. The percentage varies slightly every year, but it is generally somewhere between 20 and 25%.
“Wines in our Laurus range are made using parcel selection and specific maturation in 275-litre barrels. Roussanne reacts very well to this maturation, which creates depth and complexity.”
Roussanne has earned itself a prominent position among white grape varieties. It can now be found in other parts of the world, such as California and Australia. It is very popular with Rhône Valley wine lovers and continues to gain ground elsewhere!