A Southern French Organic Marselan

Have you heard of this grape?...

Marselan Grapes

Marselan Grapes in moderate priced wine

Today’s wine comes from Languedoc in the heart of Provence, France. It is organic and suitable for vegetarians. It comes from a grape that most people have never encountered, Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Perhaps because the vines weren’t heavy croppers, this grape essentially went nowhere for decades. The first non-blended Marselan was released in 2002. But now it has started to take off, both in Languedoc and in California; Sunridge Nurseries of Bakersfield has been selling it to growers who want to supply winemakers with unknown varieties. For about three years it has been legal to import wines with Marselan on the label into the United States. Today’s winemaker is the top organic winemaker in France. Maybe he knows something. The companion wine is also a blend. It’s an upscale Chateauneuf-du-Pape at almost five times the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Pech Matelles Marselan 2008 14 % alcohol about $12

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Description: And now for something completely different; Marselan is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and was first bred in 1961. Now this grape is winning admirers including winemaker Gilles Louvet, founder of Celliers du Languedoc, who is at the vanguard of organic winemaking in France. His version is a dry, medium- to full-bodied red featuring ripe black fruit, cherry, marzipan and toasty oak flavors supported by medium tannins and leading to a medium-long dry finish. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 21 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review.

Another Languedoc Vineyard

Another Languedoc vineyard in moderate priced wine

At the first sips this wine was powerful but tasted of grapes. It was round and had a good balance of tannins and acidity. The first meal centered on a first-cut veal chop coated with parsley flakes and thyme and fried alongside brown mushrooms and garlic. The wine’s tannins were soft and its flavor deepened when paired with the veal. The mushroom and garlic mixture brought out the oak. With a side of potatoes roasted in chicken fat the Marselan once again tasted of grapes. I took the chance of accompanying the wine with dessert, fruit juice candy. This was not a marriage made in heaven. A grapey taste predominated and the wine attained a degree of flatness.

My next meal was a broiled Atlantic Salmon perked up by Cajun spices and fresh lemon. Now the Marselan added tobacco (a plus) to its grapey taste (a minus). The microwaved redskin potatoes transformed the wine’s acidity to harsh. Cold beets weakened this native of Provence, especially at first.

The final meal was a lamb blade chop coated with a mixture of black pepper, onion powder, and ground basil leaves and fried alongside brown mushrooms and garlic. The wine was chocolaty with some oak and good acidity. The mushroom and garlic mixture bumped out the chocolate. In the presence of a moderately spicy tomato-based Turkish salad it showed a good balance of tannins and acidity and tasted of dark cherries.

The first cheese was a rather bland provolone. In response this wine was tasted of dark cherries. It was round and refreshing. When it met a yellow cheddar the Marselan became darker tasting.

Final verdict. I don’t intend to buy this wine again; the pairings were too hit and miss. I just checked and my supplier doesn’t stock any other Marselan wines. I cannot say that I am disappointed.

Access the companion wine An Organic Winemaker's Châteauneuf-du-Pape

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine websites include
www.theworldwidewine.com    and    http://www.wineinyourdiet.com

Visit his website devoted to Italian travel www.travelitalytravel.com

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