Somethings are just better together. Individually, they are good, but put them together and they become great. Stan Laurel- funny, add Oliver Hardy- hilarious. Cheech, a funny guy in his own right, but with Tommy Chong- comic history. Lucy and Ethel, Batman and Robin, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (not sure where that one came from) all singularly have merits, but put them together and you have inspiration. Surprise- I have a grape varietal version! Well, of course you aren’t surprised- anthropomorphizing viticulture is my specialty. The two particular varietals I’m going to talk about are Marsanne and Roussanne.
Whosanne? and Whassonne?
Imagine a French family- let’s call them the Rhones- who have a very large family (like, Duggar-sized) and two of their kids are named Marsanne and Roussanne. Their place in the birth order would be middle-endish- they’re kind of the afterthoughts playing second fiddle to the oldest of the family, Viognier . And that’s why you probably haven’t heard of those two varietals. While a very few wineries bottle a varietal Marsanne or Roussanne, they are most often found together in some type of blend.
So, what is it about them that makes Marsanne and Roussanne work so well as a duo rather than a singleton? Marsanne is the more reliable producer, yet it lacks any real distinctive flavors and aromas. Roussanne’ s yields are more unpredictable, but it is much more complex and nuanced than it’s counterpart- maybe Oscar and Felix from the Odd Couple?
Put together, they cover all the bases.
We grow both Marsanne and Roussanne at Naggiar. We have two blocks of each varietal, both in the older vines and younger vines and we harvest between 4 to 6 tons of each. We use both of these varietals in our Mama Mia, recently awarded a gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition (whoop, there it is), Bellissima, and even our varietal Viognier (albeit in small amounts). They both bring a lot of fabulous aromas and flavors to the party. Marsanne has more melon, pear, and papaya and Roussanne brings more white cherries, yellow apple, honeysuckle and citrus blossom. On their own, they would both pair well with root vegetables and Thai/curry dishes, but in the Mama Mia, they up the ante, pairing phenomenally with any Tagine dishes, Thai curries or a butternut ravioli. Of course, our Mama Mia is ab/fab on it’s own, slightly chilled, enjoyed on a patio (can’t beat the one at Naggiar) on a hot summer day. Award winning wine/lovely summer’s day- now that’s a dynamic duo!