Eric Texier Brézème Roussanne, Rhône, France 2017 (from £22.95, Uncorked; Wood Winters; Blanco & Gomez Wine) One of the world’s greatest white wines comes from a French appellation more famous for red wines. Château de Beaucastel’s Roussanne Vieilles Vignes Châteauneuf-du-Pape is also unusual in being made solely from a grape variety, roussanne, which has traditionally been the junior partner in blends with marsanne. Given how absurdly lovely the wine has been whenever I’ve tried it – blossomy-fragrant, and taut with lime and pear when it’s young; waxy-textured and expansive, with nuts, peaches and nougat when it’s old –it seems odd there aren’t many other single-varietal Rhône roussannes around for those of us without £799 for a case of six bottles of white wine (2014 vintage; Berry Bros & Rudd). It’s a puzzle that is only compounded by the quality of another outing for the variety from Eric Texier, which is gorgeously pitched between stone-fruited fleshy richness and pulsating citrussy fluency.
d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne, McLaren Vale, Australia 2017 (from £11.95, The Wine Society; Great Western Wine; Noble Green) There’s a hazy, soft-focus quality to the best white wines of the Rhône that is a perfect counterpoint to the region’s spicy reds. It’s not surprising, then, that those regions that have made a success in importing the Rhône’s more celebrated red varietal mix of syrah (aka shiraz), grenache and mourvèdre have also been drawn to the white varieties. Australia is a good example of this: it has proved a home from home for viognier in wines such as Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2016 (£15.49, Flagship Wines), while Victoria’s Tahbilk has become all-but-synonymous with marsanne (£10.50 for the 2017 Nagambie Lakes, The Wine Society). Roussanne is also starting to get its due, usually in blends, but also in solo performances such as d’Arenberg’s lush, full-bodied and exotic-fruited beauty.
Miles Mossop The Introduction Roussanne, South Africa 2018 (£11.50, The Wine Society) Rhône-influenced winemakers in California began to make a name for themselves in the 1980s and the state is an increasingly fertile source for whites made from this set of varieties. Stolpman Vineyards Roussanne, Ballard Canyon 2017 (from £25.95, The Vinorium; Uncorked) makes an attractive case for Californian roussanne. Many of South Africa’s most adventurous winemakers have also turned to the Rhône for inspiration with thrilling results – and they, too, are starting to see the benefits of making roussanne on its own. Rustenberg Roussanne, Stellenbosch 2018 (£12.50, Lea & Sandeman) is heady with peaches-and-cream; Miles Mossop’s Introduction is brisker and brighter, but still with that caressing, roast chicken-ready roussanne oiliness and late summer stone-fruitiness.
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