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What our expert thought of Rare Vineyards, Marsanne-Viognier




The sunny Languedoc region of south-east France, once known mostly for cheap bulk wine, is now home to some of the most exciting and innovative winemakers in France. Many of their wines go under the Pays d'Oc IGT, like this one, which allows them a freer hand to experiment than the established ACs (Appellation 
Contrôlée
) of the region. 
 
This 60/40 blend of Marsanne and Viognier is grown in the rolling Languedoc hills around the small town of Argeliers on the border between the Saint-Chinian and Minervois ACs. However, these grapes are not native to the area, originating in the northern Rhône valley about 300 kilometres away to the north-east. 
 
Strangely the two are never blended together in the Rhône, though the similarities between Roussanne and Viognier suggest that the pairing might work just as well as Marsanne-Roussanne. The winemakers of the Languedoc have no such inhibitions, so I was keen to try the result.
 
The wine is unoaked and has a delicate nose of green galia melon - probably from the Marsanne - and honeysuckle - which is typical of Viognier. It's a lovely nose: very pure and light on its feet - almost dancing!
 
The palate is dry, with medium acidity (good for these grapes, which both have a tendency to lose acidity as they ripen). It's really quite full-bodied (a Marsanne characteristic) despite the modest 12% alcohol. The weight in the mouth contrasts pleasantly with the delicacy on the nose.
 
There are flavours of pear and melon, and a silky, even slightly oily texture that is very typical of northern Rhône whites (from both grapes, curiously). Notes of ginger (Viognier) and almonds (Marsanne) appear on the finish.
 
A lovely wine, and wonderfully expressive of the two grape varieties used in the blend. The winemakers have cleverly harvested early enough to preserve refreshing acidity in the wine but late enough to allow the grapes' characteristic scents and flavours to develop. Bravo!


Tasting notes

Appearance   clear medium lemon
Nose
  Intensity medium-
  Aromas galia melon and honeysuckle
Palate
  Sweetness dry
  Acidity medium
  Body medium+
  Flavours pear and melon, hint of mouth-coating oiliness
Finish
  Length medium+
  Flavours almonds and spice (ginger)
Other notes   Unoaked


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