The white grape variety comes from France. It is probably named after the community of the same name in the Département Drôme. Synonyms are Avilleran, Avilleron, Ermitage, Ermitage Blanc, Hermitage, Grosse Roussette, Malvasia Bianca di Lucania, Marsan, Marsanne Belyi, Marsanne Blanche, Marsanne Drome, Marzanne, Rousseau, Roussette Grosse, Roussette Saint-Péray and White Hermitage. It must not be confused with the variety Roussanne (Petite Roussette), with which a parent-offspring relationship exists according to DNA analyses carried out in 2010, despite the fact that synonyms or morphological similarities seem to indicate this.
The medium-ripening, high-yielding vine is susceptible to powdery mildew and botrytis. It produces full-bodied, golden yellow white wines with moderate acidity and a variety of aromas of almonds, honeysuckle and pears. The variety was first mentioned in 1781 in a text on the white wine varieties of the Hermitage area. It is mainly cultivated on the Rhône, where it is authorised in the Côtes du Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Saint-Péray areas (but not Châteauneuf-du Pape). It is often blended with Roussanne and/or Viognier. Marsanne is one of the varieties in the Rhône recipe typical of the region. In France, it occupies a total of 1,362 hectares, and the trend is rising.
There are other areas of cultivation in Italy, where the variety is permitted in the DOC wine Colli Piacentini (55 ha), in Portugal and in Switzerland (48 ha). Overseas it is present in Argentina (1 ha), Australia (238 ha), Chile (17 ha), Canada (2 ha) and Uruguay (2 ha), as well as in the US states of California (38 ha) and Washington. The area under cultivation in 2010 was 1,762 hectares, 10 years earlier it was 1,512.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)