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Volume 34, Issue 9: July 2010

Roussanne

It may be unfair to Roussanne to refer to it as the lesser sister of Marsanne, but its role in life as a lighter, brighter wine whose energy often lifts Marsanne to greater heights is hard to overcome. Still, in the versions of the grape tasted for this issue, it is evident that Roussanne has plenty of goodness when made on its own. It is true that both highly recommended versions have big dollops of something else in their midsts, and we have barely scratched the surface of its potential here in California, but you could do worse than to try one of the more optimistically reviewed bottlings below.



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92
ADELAIDA
Version
Roussanne
 Paso Robles 2008
$30.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeLamb
Very rich, billowy aromas tinged with notes of honey and dried peach, lightly scented with a suggestion of anise and filled out by creamy oak set this full-bodied wine off on the right track, and its mouthfilling, viscous palatal impressions and its great depth of exotic fruit flavors add their own charms to this delightful and inviting offering. Its great aromasticity makes it a candidate to accompany rich and savory hors d'oeuvres, yet its weight and depth would make it a willing mate to main courses.
Reviewed: July 2010
91
JC CELLARS
First Date
Roussanne
 California 2008
$28.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowLamb
This very rich and full-bodied white blatantly shows the family trait of unfettered ripeness, but it is wonderfully well-filled with sweet, slightly honeyed, peach- and nectarine-like fruit. Its persistent suggestions of wet-stone complexity make it far more than just big and ripe, and, while it ends with a bit more finishing heat than might be ideal, it does not let up in richness. It demands service with boldly flavored foods such as garlicky chicken in sauce, and, even if just a touch viscous and fat in feel, it is sufficiently well-structured to keep handily for several years.
Reviewed: July 2010
90
ANABA
Coriol White
Roussanne
 Sonoma Valley 2008
$28.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowPoultry
Rich and ripe, slightly tropical with a touch of honey for added range and soft bit of spice in the mix as well, this lovely wine from Anaba is as easy on the palate as it is attractive in its outgoing aromas. Supple and balanced, slightly oily and nicely energetic, it tastes of the tropics with a hint of peach, probably from its Viognier portion. Rounded and smooth as it finishes, it would be a good partner to grilled or roasted chickens brushed with fruit-based glazes.
Reviewed: July 2010
87
BONNY DOON
Le Cigare Blanc. Beeswax Vineyard.
Roussanne
 Arroyo Seco 2008
$22.00
Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeLamb
Lightly blossomy, hinting at sweet limes and a little constrained as far as ripeness and outgoing fruit are concerned, Randall Grahm's proprietary white blend seems a bit bound up by its youth. It is at once both rounded and buoyed by cleansing acidity, and its glimpses of complexity make a good case for another year or two of further patience.
Reviewed: July 2010
86
TERRE ROUGE
Roussanne
 Sierra Foothills 2008
$25.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeFish
Fresh and lean at the same time with a suggestion of green apple in its lightly candied, floral aromas, the wine is at once both lush and somewhat stiff on the palate in a two-legged, not fully fruity way. It comes with a mild but noticeable edge of bitterness that is likely to be offset by service alongside lightly sauced chicken and white fish preparations. A few years of time in the cellar will help smooth it out.
Reviewed: July 2010
86
WELLINGTON
Roussanne
 Sonoma County 2008
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowFish
Somewhat lighter overall than most of its competitors and bothered just a touch by notes of slight greenness, this wine is nevertheless attractively fruity in character and has a balanced, firm feel on the palate that makes it a useful mate with grilled fish.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
EBERLE
Côtes du Robles Blanc
Roussanne
 Paso Robles 2008
$24.00
Limited AvailabilityDrink NowFish
A bit of honeyed richness contributes to this wine's rich aromas and to its full, slightly rounded texture at the front of the palate. It gets a bit thin in the latter going and is more tangy and brisk than fruity by the time it finishes.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
ROSENBLUM
Fess Parker Vineyard
Roussanne
 Santa Barbara County 2007
$25.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowPoultry
Sweet and slightly floral in scent, this outgoing effort smacks of tropical fruit from beginning to end. A slight bit of tangy greenness plays counterpoint to its insistent suggestions of candy, and it is stiffened by a last-minute rise in edgy acidity.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
SARAH'S VINEYARD
Estate
Roussanne
 Santa Clara Valley 2008
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowLamb
Its mildly honeyed, slightly peachy aromas may make for a nice start, but this bottling comes up soft and slightly wanting for fruit in the mouth with less substance and depth than first meets the nose. Even allowing for the fact that it is still very young, its limits are plain as are its chances to grow into a more complete wine.
Reviewed: July 2010
84
ADELAIDA
Pavanne
Roussanne
 Paso Robles 2008
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowLamb
Its youth notwithstanding, this slightly viscous, fairly full-bodied white is rather flat and lacking in focus. It is ripe yet not especially fruity, and it gradually gives ground to both heat and bitterness at the finish.
Reviewed: July 2010
84
HAGAFEN
Roussanne. Ripken Vineyard.
Roussanne
 Lodi 2008
$18.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink NowLamb
While its warm provenance might predict a softer wine that is keyed on ripeness, this tight and angular offering proves to be anything but. It fails to show much in the way of Rhône white richness, and its vaguely cardboardy nose and chalky bitterness are not the stuff of success.
Reviewed: July 2010
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Tasting Note View

Brief ViewFull View
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Rating System

THREE STARS:(95-98 points) An exceptional wine. Worth a special search of the market.

TWO STARS:(91-94 points) A highly distinctive wine. Likely to be memorable.

ONE STAR:(87-90 points) Fine example of a type or style of wine. Without notable flaws.

Note: Wines not marked with stars are often delightful wines. Each has unique virtues and any of these wines may be the best wine to serve your needs based on value, availability or for your dining and taste preferences.

95-98 3 Stars
91-94 2 Stars
87-90 1 Star
80-86 Wines of varying quality and value. See tasting notes for details.
70-79 Flawed wines to be avoided.

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Ageworthiness

Drinkable now. Unlikely to improve with further aging.

Drinkable now. Further bottle aging can improve this wine.

Cellar for future drinking. Wine will improve with bottle aging.

Not suitable for drinking.

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Food & Wine Pairings

Soft and fruity wine Quaffable by itself or with light foods.

Crisp white. Medium acid and dry. Fish or delicate flavored foods.

Mellow white. Dry to slightly sweet. Enough acid for white meats.

Full and balanced dry white. Try with rich seafood and fowl dishes.

Light Red and powerhouse White. Fowl, veal and light meats.

Medium Red. Balanced, good depth, medium tannin. Beef and lamb.

Robust Red. Full tannin, intense flavors. For highly spiced meat dishes.

Sweet Dessert wine. Enjoyable by itself or with sweet desserts.

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Availability

Generally available in most markets.

Limited production and/or limited geographic distribution.

Very limited availability.