Roussanne is a white wine grape varietal predominantly grown in the northern Rhône wine region of France. Roussanne is often blended with Marsanne, which is the only other white wine varietal allowed in the northern Rhône appellations of Crozes-Hermitage AOP, Hermitage AOP and Saint-Joseph AOP.
In the southern Rhône appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP it is one of 6 permitted white wine varietals: along with Grenache Blanc, Piquepoul Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picardan. Châteauneuf-du-Pape regulations also permit Roussanne to be blended into their red wines. Roussanne can also be found in various wine regions around the world such as: Australia, America and selected areas in Spain, Italy and Crete.

 

In Australia, it was believed to have been introduced to be blended with Shiraz. Records dating back to 1882 note the presence of Roussanne plantings in Victoria and Barossa Valley.
The grape berries are distinguished by their russet colour when ripe - roux is French for the reddish brown colour russet, and is probably the origin for the varietal name. In warm climates, it produces wines of richness, with flavours of honey and pear and full bodied. In cooler climates it is more floral and more delicate, with higher acidity.
In many regions, it is a difficult varietal to grow, with vulnerability to mildew, poor resistance to drought and wind, late and uneven bunch ripening, and irregular yields. The Roussanne grape prefers a long growing season but should be harvested before the potential alcohol reaches 14% - which can result in a finished wine being out of balance, the wine can also benefit from controlled use of oak.
Wines made from Roussanne are characterised by their intense aromatics which can include capsicum and herbs and fruit flavours such as pear, which become more nutty as they age. Roussanne wines and Roussanne dominated blends can show well in the first 3 to 4 years - before entering a ‘quiet phase’ where the wine is closed aromatically until the wine reaches 7 or 8 years of age, when it develops more complexity and depth - enjoy.