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Marsanne - Roter Traminer

Marsanne - Roter Traminer

I would advise anyone who wants to delve deeply into the origins of grapes to look at ‘Wine Grapes’ by Jancis Robinson et al., the most authoritative tome on the subject. It did help my spinning head a little, but not much, as the Traminer/Savagnin family is more complex than the Ewings of Dallas. Roter Traminer is the same wine as Savagnin Rouge, related to the Gelber Traminer (Savagnin Blanc/Heida) and to Gewürztraminer. Roter Traminer is the predominant Traminer variety in Austria. It has low acidity and literally does smell (and taste) of roses along with dried fruit, marshmallows and citrus notes. In colour it ranges from intensely green to intensely yellow or even a glisten of red. When produced from ripe grapes, it produces wines with pronounced aromas that age well.

Whilst being well known in France in the creation of Hermitage AOC, Marsanne is also grown in Valais, Switzerland, where it is known as Ermitage or Ermitage Blanc. It is also found in Savoie where they call it Grosse Roussette.

It is a versatile grape and is made into steely dry and sweet wines (Ermitage Fletri from Valais) with quite a deep colour. Although often blended due to its low acidity this is a plus for the Swiss who are not too keen on much acidity in their wines and they produce an excellent range of single variety wines from this grape. The wines, whether dry or sweet, can be drunk young, but will benefit greatly from being given time to age and reach their full potential.

Marsanne produces deeply coloured wines that are rich and nutty, with hints of spice and pear, aromas of melon and honeysuckle. As Marsanne ages the wine takes on a darker colour and the flavours can become more complex and concentrated with a waxy, honeyed texture. Aromas of nuts and quince can also develop.

It seems likely that Marsanne is named after the village near Montélimar where it is likely to have originated. DNA analysis shows a parent-offspring relationship between Marsanne and Roussanne. Marsanne is one of the eight grape varieties allowed in Côtes du Rhône.

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