Rather Be Marsanne

July 7, 2005

Not a whole heck of a lot of wine news to report on. My wife and I have been house hunting which is both depressing and time-consuming. And I just accepted a new job. So there hasn’t been much free time to savour a fine glass of vino lately. In the midst of all this madness though, I did have time to enjoy an excellent bottle of Cline Cellars Marsanne last weekend.

We went to a local restaurant with some friends last Saturday. Out of respect for the owners, I’ll keep the exact location secret, because they allowed us to bring in our own wine – which is technically illegal here in Manitoba.

Thanks to their generosity however, we showed up with a bottle of Cline’s ‘Los Carneros’ Marsanne (2002). Our friends brought an excellent five-year old Jumilla from Spain, which was fantastic with my wild boar. But I think the Cline stole the show. In other parlance, one could say that the Cline made the Jumilla scream for its mommy.

Marsanne is an unusual white grape, which originates in the Rhone Valley of France. It’s usually found as part of a blend, and is one of the Holy Trinity of Rhone Valley whites (the other two being Rousanne and Viognier). I’ve only ever had it as a bone-dry white, but like Viognier and Rousanne, its richness prevents it from being overly crisp.

I found the nose on the Cline Marsanne to be very floral, and a bit lighter than Viognier. In the mouth, it was bone dry, but so rich that there wasn’t a lot of crispness. I’d rate it as somewhat lighter than Viognier. It didn’t have the mouth-filling richness that I expect from a Viognier, and it was a bit rougher. Nice long finish though, it lasted nearly a minute.

The primary flavour was melon, specifically honeydew. That’s exactly how Cline’s website describes the wine too, which bothers me a bit. But in this case, it’s hard to mistake it for anything else. Cline also describes apricot and honeysuckle. I didn’t pick up any apricot, and honeysuckle is one of those flavours that nobody really understands, so it covers a lot of ground.

Seriously folks. How many people sit down to a nice bowl of honeysuckle after dinner? I associate honeysuckle with a smell, rather than a taste, so I lose a little respect for people who toss it around as a flavour. It is a nice smell though, and if you wanted to be all abstract, you could extrapolate that into a taste. I don’t go around gnawing on forest floors myself, but I can recognize the ‘taste’.

Anyways, smelling vs. tasting aside, this was a amazing wine, although my experience with single-varietal Marsanne wines is admittedly rather limited. I picked it up at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis for $17 US (on sale), and it was worth every penny. I’d serve it up with an equally rich white fish. Cline recommends sea bass. In an effort to agree with their taste, but be distinct about it, I’ll be a fish snob and suggest some nice fresh BC halibut instead.

Oh, and five elusive WWB status points to anyone who owns the album that the title comes from. Ten if you can hum the tune and fifteen if you ever saw them in person.


  1. Don’t I know you?

  2. Busted – and it took you long enough! I don’t know how many times I’ve linked back to your blog…

  3. The 2 of you should do standup together…

  4. We do, and we serve wine while we’re at it.–>

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