Marsanne might not be at top of your shopping list when looking for a bottle of wine, but it is a noteworthy white grape variety for Victoria and worth tracking down.
We have some of the largest plantings globally, and at Nagambie Lakes, the historic Tahbilk winery has some of the oldest plantings in the world, dating back to 1927. These were established from cuttings taken from 19th century vines from the St Huberts vineyard in the Yarra Valley. The grape produces a fresh, zesty, citrus wine when young, but has the potential to age for decades when it displays honey and even marmalade flavours. Tahbilk offer a six pack of different vintages at a remarkably good price.
Coming back to the Yarra Valley, Yeringberg produce a classic marsanne that is blended with roussanne, which is another white grape like marsanne, that originated in the northern Rhône valley.
Yeringberg was established in 1863 and is still in the same family with five generations calling the farm and vineyard home. The De Pury family are from Swiss heritage and the wines are made by Sandra De Pury in partnership with her brother David, who, is the viticulturalist. Yeringberg is famous for their Bordeaux blend, but also make a superb shiraz, pinot noir and viognier. Their historic old cellar contains railway tracks still in-place that ran small rail carts around the building filled with grapes.
Tasting their wine is an opportunity to see how well marsanne ages. Their 2011 blend was 57% marsanne and 43% roussanne. The wine was fermented in tank, finished in old barrels and matured for 9 months, undergoing some lees stirring. At twelve years old it offered aromas of bouquet garni, honey and lanolin. The palate was remarkable showing lovely textured and creamy notes, but still retaining its acid spine. There were flavours of lemon curd, almonds and herbs and it had a long finish. Superb. It is currently on offer at the winery and a great opportunity to drink an aged white wine.
Clive Hartley is an award-winning wine writer, educator and consultant. Check out his fortnightly radio show on Hepburn Community Radio called “put a cork in it”. His book the Australian Wine Guide (7th ed) is available for purchase from Paradise Books in Daylesford or through his website – www.australianwineguide.com.au