Roussanne is a green grape from France used for producing everyday as well as prestigious wines, both in blends and in varietal wines.
Roussanne is a variety that is sensitive to when it is harvested. If the wine maker is looking for high acidity, it has to be harvested before it is completely ripe, with the risk of arriving with too much of vegetative flavours. It needs lots of sun, and will thrive if the soil is poor and calcareous.
The grapes are known to oxidise easily once they have been harvested. Flavours are of white flowers in Spring.
You can find Roussanne both as a dry varietal, as part of various blends, and in sparkling wines.
You will find it in blends from the northern Rhône Valley districts Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph, and Saint-Péray. It is in Saint-Péray you can find the sparkling Mousseux wines. In northern Rhône, it is often blended with Marsanne.
A bit further south, you find it as a major component in white wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It can sometimes appear as a dry varietal as well. Roussanne is also allowed in the Côtes du Rhône AOC.
In Savoie it is used for producing dry varietals under the synonym Bergeron.
Thanks to high acidity and generally good structure, Roussanne wines are very versatile when it comes to food pairing. It matches excellently a wide variety of dishes, from Shellfish and Fish dishes to Bouillabaisse to Roasted Chicken and Cheeses.
The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
Rousanne is reported to be grown in eight countries, but the acreage outside France is very small. The French regions where it is represented are the Rhône Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, and in south-eastern Savoie. The two first regions have ninety percent of the country’s acreage of the variety.
- France 1.457 ha/3,601 ac (a doubling of the acreage), MPG 50
- USA 140 ha/346 ac (a fivefold increase), MPG 54
- Italy 110 ha/272 ac (an increase with 18%), MPG 180
An additional five countries – Australia, South Africa, Chile, Canada, and Uruguay – report of plantings from 83 ha/205 ac down to very small areas, e.g. 3 ha/7 ac).
An interesting aspect regarding the plantings in Australia (83 ha/205 ac) is that they are spread over no less than twenty-two regions. Consequently, they are generally very small, apart from in Clare Valley, where 24 ha/59 ac are reported.
Roussanne is recognised as native to Hermitage in the Rhône Valley where it has been documented for more than two-hundred years.