Posts Tagged ‘Roussanne’

img_1192This wine is a blend of 63% Roussanne and 37% Viognier. The Roussanne is from Bennett Valley and the Viognier from the Sonoma Coast. Cloudy and golden straw in color. Floral aromatics with honeysuckle, tropical fruit and citrus. White peach, pear and citrus on the palate with a hint of marzipan on the finish. Round, textured with good richness, minerality and acidity. Quite substantial in body and finish, though a touch of heat on the finish.

I thought this was well above average, but remember being more impressed by the Pax Nepenthe 2006. There are also many other whites that deliver as much enjoyment at a lower price point. That being said, I have a soft spot for well made Rhône inspired whites — and this certainly qualifies.

14.3 % alcohol
265 cases produced

Other wines from Pax:
Pax Marsanne/Roussanne/Viognier, Nepenthe, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County, 2006
Pax Syrah Sonoma Hillsides Russian River Valley 2006

Other recommended California Rhône whites:
Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2006
Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007
McPrice Myers Viognier Larner Vineyard 2006
L’Aventure Roussanne 2006


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gaillard-ivre-2007I am a big fan of Perre Gaillard. His Condrieu 2006 was one of my favorite white wines from last year. In fact, I could put it on my list of top 5 whites (that is if I kept such a list). On that list, I would also include the McPrice Myers Viognier 2006 and Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang 2006.

Gaillard’s wines are consistently excellent and some of the greatest quality/value plays in the entire Rhône. Gaillard got into the wine business at a very young age. His first vineyard was the Chardonnay vines he planted in his parents’ garden. Later he worked at Guigal and Vidal Fleury. He was a force at Guigal in the 1980s, helping to create La Turque which became a benchmark vineyard in Cote Rotie. Today, Gaillard is considered by many to be one of the most capable craftsmen in the Northern Rhône and is also considered a master of Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne.

Le Secret Ivre is a joint effort between Pierre Gaillard and Kimberly Jones of the Shiverick/Jones import house. The 2007 release is 60% Viognier and 40% Rousanne. The majority of the viognier comes from Condrieu. Light golden yellow in color. Viognier infused aromatics of apricot, white peach and honeysuckle. More apricot on the palate — with asian pear, apple and a touch of pineapple, kiwi and lemon zest.  A creamy textutre with good richness and acidity and a clean, solid finish. I thought this was a very nice bottle of wine, but it didn’t impress me as much as some of his other wines, but certainly worthy of a recommendation. 14% alcohol. 100 cases produced.

Other wines from Pierre Gaillard:
Pierre Gaillard Condrieu 2006
Gaillard Côtes du Rhône Les Gendrines 2006
Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2005

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A Rhône-style white blend from Barrel 27 — 42% Viognier, 34% Roussanne and 24% Marsanne . All of the fruit comes from French Camp Vineyard in Paso Robles. The wine is a joint effort of winemakers McPrice Meyers and Russel From.

Meyers and From have their own, independent labels as well, Mac’s McPrice Myers Wine Company, and Russell’s Herman Story Wines Both produce Rhone varietal wines, focusing on Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne.

Deep golden straw in color. An aromatic nose with honey, floral notes, lemongrass, wet stone and a touch of butterscotch and watercress. On the palate, lemonheads, citrus zest, honey, wet limestone, butter, cured ham — and there is something in the flavor profile that reminds me of Lillet Blanc. Good viscosity and weight with a silky, lush and oily mouthfeel. It is listed at 15.1% percent alcohol — and it certainly is a bit too present for my tastes. There is a lot of nice fruit, some flab and structure, but it’s just a bit too much for my palate.

I am sure there are those that will like this wine. I certainly had hopes given that it is a white Rhône blend from Paso Robles, and while there were many characteristics I liked quite a bit, but I think McPrice and Russel both had their foot on the accelerator. I would stop short of recommending the wine, but would note it is a very good value. I have seen this wine priced at a couple of places at around $15 a bottle, it may retail at about $18.

About McPrice Myers
McPrice Myers began his career working for specialty food retailers and grocery stores, giving him the opportunity to taste a lot of wine. In wine he found a passion and started dreaming of the day when he would make his own wine.

He started working harvests in Paso Robles, learning the trade and making the contacts that would lay the groundwork for the point at which he would eventually make his own wine. In 2002, Myers contracted enough fruit to make 250 cases of Santa Barbara County Syrah.

Read review of McPrice Myers Grenache L’ange 2005.

About Russell From
Russell got his start in wine while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Agriculture program. Intending to become a farm equipment magnate, Russell began working at wineries mostly because they were hiring, but it wasn’t long before he ‘got the bug’ and began a serious study of winemaking. It wouldn’t be long before he met Mac Myers, and after several discussions, appropriate amounts of wine, and a punch-up or two, Barrel 27 was born to the wordsn“Each bottle of this wine represents a dream realized by two friends.”

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Chateau Grande Cassagne is a small estate run by the Dardé brothers (Laurent and Benoît). The property is near the village of Saint-Gilles. The Dardé brothers produce very good Rhone-style wines at value prices. Their wines are hand-made and the fruit is hand-farmed and organically-grown. Their first vintage was in 1988 and their wines have been imported by Robert Kacher since 1994.

The Cuvée Cassanus is a blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne. 80% is stainless steel fermented and 20% is done in French oak barriques. Golden straw in color. White flower, citrus, melon and a touch of honey aromatics. Green apple with pear, lemon, green olive and limestone on the palate. It is a little flabby, but shows good richness and minerality. Very food friendly.

I bought this on sale at Calvert Woodley for $6.99 a bottle. Note that this wine sells at $8.99 on sale in the store, but is available at the sale price of $6.99 on their website.

The wine normally retails at $10-11 a bottle. At $10 a bottle this is a good value, but at under $7, it is one of the top 10 white wine values I have encountered this year.

It is often difficult to find something serviceable at under $7 a bottle, but I actually would have called this a value play at $10 a bottle — and would not have been surprised (or disappointed) to have learned I paid $13 a bottle. Not a bad little quaffer this one….

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Pax Mahle is considered to be an ultratraditionalist. “We take a very pure approach,” explains Mahle, “one that was more commonplace 100 years ago in France than it is today.”

That approach includes organic farming, foot-crushing the grapes, natural fermentations and absolutely no fining or filtering. He contends that his style of winemaking is really without a style.

It is also worth noting that their approach to customer service is a throwback to another era as well. Everyone I have ever interacted with has been very personable, genuine and helpful. They also sent me a handwritten and thoughtful thank you note after I had ordered my wine.

Mahle used to work as a wine buyer at Dean & DeLuca. After tasting a few thousand wines for his job at D&D, he became convinced that the cool coastal vineyards of northern California could produce his beloved Rhône style of nuanced, layered Syrah.

He might have been on to something as he seems to be developing quite a following. A couple of years ago a special five-case lot of his 2004 Pax Wine Cellars Syrah sold for an auction-high $18,000 at the Paso Robles Hospice du Rhône benefit.

Pax has produced a Rousssane in previous vintages, but this is their first Marsanne/Roussane/Viognier release.

Light, golden straw in color and a little cloudy in the glass. Pear, apple with soft white flower and wet stone on the nose. Pear, honey, vanilla, pepper, buttered almond and wet cement one the palate — pronounced minerality with creamy acidity and a lingering finish. Oak is there for structure, but it is also very subtle. More appealing as the wine continues to open through the course of the evening.

Had I not known it was from California, I might have guessed this wine was from the the Rhône valley — proof that he doesn’t just produce Rhône-like Syrahs.

Certainly not a value, but a great bottle of wine. I wish I could afford to drink Pax wines on a more regular basis as I would put them on my short list best producers in California.


44 % Roussanne / 38% Marsanne / 18% Viognier
10 % new French Oak
13.5 % Alc by Vol
165 cases produced

Other wines from Pax:
Pax Syrah Sonoma Hillsides Russian River Valley 2006

Other recommended California Rhône whites:
Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2006
Melville Estate Verna’s Viognier 2007
McPrice Myers Viognier Larner Vineyard 2006
L’Aventure Roussanne 2006

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Mas des Bressades is considered by many as one of the top estates in Costières de Nîmes, located 35 miles southwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on the western side of the Rhône. Cyril Marès has been the winemaker since 1996. He previously worked for Chalone in California and Bruno Prats in Chile. His wife, Natalie Blanc, owns the adjacent estate, Mas Carlot.

For the last 10 vintages, I have bought their Roussanne/Viognier. They make two red cuvées. The Cuvée Excellence is a Syrah-dominated blend, and Cuvée Tradition, is an unoaked southern blend of Syrah and Grenache. They also make an outstanding Rosé.

Their wines are imported by Robert Kacher. He founded Robert Kacher Selections more than 20 years ago. Robert Parker named him “one of the 20 most influential wine personalities of the past 20 years” and in 2004 Bobby became Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, one of only a handful of U.S. importers to ever receive the honor. Some have been a bit critical of Kacher for his very hands on approach with the winemakers he represents. But he is more often praised for the quality and value of the wines he represents.

Roussanne/Viognier 2006
This wine is made from roughly 55% Viognier and 45% Roussanne which is aged completely in barrel; 80% new oak and 20% 1 year old. The wine only stays in barrel for 5 months in order to introduce a nuance of oak but allow the fruit to be the focus of the wine. Solid aromatics with some tropical fruit. Note of pear and apple on the palate with nice minerality, acidity and a crisp, lingering finish.

Rosé 2007
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault and is vinified completely in tank. The Grenache vines here are between 25 and 60+ years old and the Syrah and Cinsault are over 30 years old. The yields for this wine are between 35 and 40 hectoliter per hectare. Raspberry and strawberries come through on the nose. On the palate I get loads of lychee and raspberry (but noting this a dry rosé), rose water, wet stone and a hint of white pepper.

Both wines are in the $12-14 a bottle range, great values and strongly recommended. I look forward to tasting the entire Robert Kacher portfolio on May 7th and his annual trade tasting in DC.

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L’Aventure is located in the west end of Paso Robles. Stephan Asseo is the owner and winemaker. He began making wine in 1982, following his education at L’Ecole Oenologique de Macon, Burgundy, France. In 1996, he left France to find his next adventure and landed in Paso Robles. He purchased 126 acres, selected his rootstock and started his planting. Today he is growing mostly Syrah and Cabernet, some Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot and some 3 acres of Roussanne and Viognier.

The Roussane is golden straw in color. Floral aromatics with pear, apple, chanterelle mushrooms and sea foam. Pear, apple and wet stone on the palate. Medium to full body, great acidity, richness and complexity with mineral, almond and beeswax components (and just a little chalky). 300 cases produced.

Certainly not a great value at $24-26 a bottle, but I would not hesitate buying it again. Recommended.

The L’Aventure Roussanne and the McPrice Myers Viognier 2006 were my two favorite Rhône whites from California I have tasted so far this year.

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