Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Roussanne, sometimes Rousanne, fashionable white Rhône grape which doubtless owes its name to the russet or roux colour of its skin. With marsanne, with which it is often blended, it is one of only two vine varieties allowed into the white versions of the northern Rhône’s red wine appellations hermitage, crozes-hermitage, and st-joseph and into the exclusively white and often sparkling st-péray. In each of these appellations, Marsanne is far more widely grown because the vine tends to be hardier and more productive. Roussanne’s irregular yields, tendency to powdery mildew and rot, and poor wind resistance all but eradicated it from the northern Rhône until better clones were selected and even today it is preferred there by a minority of producers such as Paul jaboulet Aîné. Nevertheless, by 2011 French plantings had grown to 1,768 ha/4,367 acres, rather more than Marsanne with which a parent-offspring relationship has been strongly suggested by dna profiling.