Saint Péray tends to get overlooked as a source of excellent northern Rhône whites, lost in the shadow of more famous (and expensive) Hermitage and Condrieu. But this pure Marsanne from one of the region’s best known names is delicious: aromatic and floral, with notes of wild herbs and honeysuckle, a touch of oak, hints of fennel and aniseed and a long, stylish, refreshing finish.
With a name like Canyon Park, let alone a price tag close to £15, the last place you’d expect this blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier to come from is Bulgaria, but the country that gave us impossibly cheap Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1980s is emerging from the Eastern European doldrums at last. This is smoky, savoury and perfumed, with aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, ripe, pear and apricot flavours and subtle oak integration. A sign of very good things to come?
Caroline Mooney’s wines are some of the most exciting things I’ve tasted from Australia in the last three years. This barrel-fermented Marsanne shows the variety’s classic honeysuckle and aniseed notes, well integrated with oak and sustained by bright acidity. Honey and some white flowers add extra complexity and texture.
The wonderfully theatrical Chester Osborn is better known for his reds than his whites, but he has a suprisingly subtle touch with the latter, as this very lightly oaked blend of Viognier with 32% Marsanne demonstrates. It’s a spicy, pithy, understated white, with good crunch and zest, a hint of apricot and a mealy, balanced finish.
Alain Graillot and his son, Maxime, make some of the best value wines in the northern Rhône Valley, often on a par with more expensive fare from nearby Hermitage. This blend of mostly Marsanne with 20% Roussanne is a stunner: aromatic, mealy and very complex, with notes of brown toast, fresh flowers, oatmeal, peach and citrus fruit. The oak is very subtle, while the finish is long and staisfying. It will age nicely too under screwcap.
A light, refreshing, herbal, honeysuckle-scented Marsanne from All Saints, favouring mealy, citrus fruit over oak influence. The wine is tangy and well-balanced, light enough to enjoy as an aperitif as well as with food. Experience shows that Victorian Marsannes age extremely well.