Spotlight on Marsanne

Spotlight on Marsanne

FRIDAY, JUL 14 2017
TOM SINTON

About Marsanne
Masanne is one of our favorite white wines featuring prominent melon and mineral flavors. While it has some floral aromas, blending with Viognier tends to bring out more of the floral notes. As it ages the wine tends to develop distinctive nutty and honey flavors.  

What is the origin of Marsanne?
Marsanne is thought to have come from the town of Marsanne, near Montélimar in the northern Rhône Valley. It is one of the more popular white wine grapes from the northern Rhône region of France, and is the only variety used in Chapoutier’s famous “Ermite Blanc” white wines from the Hermitage Hill above Tain L’Hermitage.  As early as the 1700s, Thomas Jefferson became a fan of Marsanne while serving as the United States’ first ambassador to France. Marsanne prefers rocky, hillside soils and dry climates and can be temperamental if it doesn’t have ideal growing conditions, which can result in low acidity and reduced varietal character.

What are the most popular regions for this varietal today?
Marsanne is cultivated in the Northern Rhône (France), Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and increasingly in California.

What are the characteristics?
Marsanne grapes tend to be small with space between the bunches. When the grapes are ripe they turn a greenish-brown color. The wine is medium yellow in color. It contains a moderate amount of acidity with floral, spice, and mineral aromas and flavors of melon, pear, peach, and often a nutty flavor.  In the Rhône, Marsanne is often blended with Roussanne, also one of our wines.

Why did you choose to grow Marsanne?
We have the perfect soil and growing conditions to produce an outstanding Marsanne from our Foothills vineyard – so we wanted to try!  We planted about 1.5 acres of Marsanne on a rocky, steep, east-facing slope.  There it receives abundant morning sun, but as the temperature rises in the late afternoon, the vines quickly drop into shade,  cooling the fruit.  At nighttime, cooler air flows like a river around the bottom of the hill where the Marsanne is located.  By the morning, it’s often 10-14 degrees cooler than the top of the hill – helping produce wines with excellent balance and acidity.    

When is it available?
Our 2016 Marsanne is available now. This is one of our first wines from our estate grapes in Placerville. We are happy to report that it has received gold medals from San Diego Critics Challenge and the Orange County Fair Wine Competition and silver from the El Dorado County Fair as well as the Sunset Magazine Wine Competition.  You can order it on our website for $24 a bottle.    

Tips for enjoying Marsanne
Masanne should be served chilled and pairs well with food, although we like to drink it on the patio before dinner with some cheese. Because of its’ richness it is an excellent complement to seafood and shellfish including crab, lobster, and shrimp. You can also serve it with mussels and clams, as well as chicken, veal, and pork. And it also goes well with spicy food, Asian dishes and of course, cheese. It ages nicely and with aging deepens in color and often exhibits nutty flavors.  


Starfield Vineyards is an artisanal producer of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot  from the cooler hillsides of Napa Valley and Bordeaux, France.  Inspired by the “star fields” that make extraordinary wines possible in these world-renowned regions, Starfield celebrates the truly great vineyard sites that allow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to develop the optimal balance of aroma, flavor and texture.  Father and son team, Tom and Rob Sinton, bring to Starfield four generations of winegrowing experience and an intense desire to reach beyond traditional boundaries to pursue the ultimate quality in cool climate winemaking. Buy our wine online and sign up for your allocation by joining our wine club, which assures your access to these limited production Bordeaux blends for home, special occasions or as gifts for wine connoisseurs.