Sunday, November 21, 2010

A great white adventure – the Roussanne of Stephane Asseo

I’ve written about Stephane Asseo and his adventure of l’Aventure before, and this time I’ll focus on his white, the Roussanne Estate. If Rhône styled reds are well know and more and more popular among consumers as well as growers and producers, the whites counterparts are less known and made in minuscule volumes. There are 1 204 hectares of Viognier planted in California, less than 150 hectares of Roussanne, and just slightly more than 100 hectares in total of Grenache Blanc and Marsanne. The lion share of these whites is planted in the Central Coast, where producers such as Tablas Creek (partly owned by Châteauneuf-du-Pape based Château de Beaucastel), Alban Vineyards and Sine-Qua-Non have played a great part in spreading the knowledge and passion about these whites.
If the American chardonnays are notably different from the burgundian wines, the California white Rhône blends can, and actually often are, relatively similar to the French versions.
There’s only one white wine from the l’Aventure estate in the beautiful Paso Robles west, which is marked by the proximity to the cool Pacific, but also by the warm days. But is i a true white gem of the Paso Robles. At least if you enjoy rich and powerful wines in the style of Alban Vineyards and Sine-Qua-Non. This is another one …

2008 Roussanne Estate / 95 p
There is around 15 percent of Viognier in the Roussanne wine, which is fermented in 15-30 percent new French oak barrels and kept there for six months. Since yields are very low, only 13 hectoliters per hectare, the wine offers a great concentration of ripe but not too sweet yellow fruits like apples, sweet lemons and pineapples. There’s also a lovely honey note as well as a touch of bees wax and licorice, all quite common aromas in Roussanne. It’s full bodied, yet elegant, it’s ripe and lush with a silky texture of glycerol and an almost sweetish fruit, but there’s also enough acidity to balance all that fruit, body and alcohol, which in this wine almost touch 15 percent. Sweet lemons and honey lingers for a while in the lovely aftertaste, that’s completely dry and surprisingly fresh. I prefer to serve it at 12-14 degrees, but thanks to its fine acidity and great balance, it also tastes damn good at 16-18 degrees, just as many northern Rhône whites.
Drink it 2010-2018.

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