This grape is not one of the more well-known or “popular” varietals in the average wine consumer world, but it makes for a good blending grape in the Rhone region in France. It adds body and acidity and is one of the grapes that is allowed in making white Chateauneuf du Pape…one of my favorite wines.
I first discovered it in California at Stolpman’s (www.stolpmanvineyards.com). I loved the creamy texture and full body mouth feel it had. I was surprised that it was not a heavy fruit wine, but more herbal and floral.
Texas has also been planting this grape and I think doing a very fine job of making fantastic wines with it.
The two Texas wineries I have tried have been Calais (www.calaiswinery.com) & McPherson (www.mcphersoncellars.com). The grapes for both wineries were grown in the same area of the High Plains around Lubbock.
I thought it would be an interesting experiment to compare these 3 wines (1 Calif and 2 Texas) and then pair them with buttered popcorn (www.orville.com).
The Stolpman Roussanne called L’Avion was done the “sur lie” method which means the juice from the grapes are left in contact with the dead yeast and grape particles for several months in the barrel. In this case 15 months. The end result will give the wine a creamy mouth feel. It also will extract some of the toast or vanilla characteristics from the barrel.
The smell of the Stolpman was vanilla creme, a little bit of banana, truffle oil, and olive.
The taste was honey, green tea, jasmine, vanilla creme with a little citrus bite. It had a round mouth feel and was very creamy but the citrus bite helped keep it from becoming cloy.
When paired with the buttered popcorn, it was really good. All that buttery goodness with a rich, creamy wine was a perfect choice…I mean who doesn’t like butter & creme?
My next choice was Calais Winery. It was also done sur lie, but the grapes came from the High Plains in Texas and the wine aged for 12 months.
The smell was honeysuckle, iris (a vanilla-citrus type of smell that is hard to describe), truffle oil.
The taste was honey, vanilla creme, and pear with a black tea finish. This wine was richer in honey flavor but it was not cloying because of the black tea bite. It was well-balanced.
This was another good choice with the buttered popcorn because of the honey aspect of the wine. It sweetened the popcorn…awesome!
The last wine was from McPherson, another Texas winery whose grapes are also from the High Plains. This wine was aged in stainless steel so the result was totally different.
The smell was grass, herbal tea, lemon.
The taste was light banana, lemon, grapefruit, cilantro. It was more light citrus all over the palate and did not linger very long. Very refreshing.
However, the buttered popcorn overpowered the wine.
I would say overall the Stolpman & Calais were more in keeping with what a Roussanne should be. The McPherson became forgettable after it warmed up.
The Calais Roussanne is the best I have ever had because it kept its honey and black tea flavors. The Stolpman started getting oily and forest floor.
Some bad news though with the Calais wine is that Benjamin only has about 3 cases left and we will have to wait several months for the next vintage to be ready…but it will be worth the wait, Twisted Peeps.