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Shannon Hurley
April 7, 2020 | Shannon Hurley

Roussanne in Napa Valley

Beautiful, elegant, Roussanne. A grape that’s often forgotten about by many consumers and top wine enthusiasts alike. This grapes richness and crisp acidity highlight the beauty of the varietals characteristic yellow pear & honey flavors. I’m here to guide you through this captivating wine that will surely make you a believer on why Roussane deserves more attention and a place in your cellar. 

Although no one is precisely sure where Roussanne originated…it seems likely the varietal is native to the Rhône Valley and to the Isere Valley in south eastern France. This varietal has not ventured far from its origin; most of the worlds’ Roussanne is grown throughout the Rhône, where it is traditionally used as a blending grape. In the Southern Rhône valley, Roussanne is one of six white grape varietals permitted in the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, and it is often blended with Grenache Blanc. In the Northern Rhône, Roussanne is frequently blended with the grape Marsanne in the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint Joseph to provide acidity, minerality and richness.


Roussanne may not be the first grape you think of when you think of California wine, however did you know that this grape does extremely well in the soils and climate of the Napa Valley? After some early, largely unsuccessful experiments with Roussanne (the last of which were pulled out in the 1920s.) Several growers reintroduced the grape into the United States in the 1980s. Cuttings, taken from the Rhône Valley, were planted in vineyards around California, and many wines from those cuttings garnered critical acclaim. 

The “Vineyard Collection” consists of limited-production, single vineyard wines that express the distinct personality and terroir of each unique site. The grapes from the Talahalusi vineyard in the Rutherford AVA are a perfect example of just that. “Talahalusi” meaning ‘Beautiful Valley’ comes from the Wappo tribe that had populated the area for many years what we now know as Napa Valley. Talk about some serious history! The vineyard is in the heart of the growing area close to the Napa River which keeps the soil fairly rich. The fruit is some of the last to fully ripen in the valley, usually picked come late October.


The 2015 Talahalusi Vineyard Roussanne is laced with a bounty of different aromas. Fresh apricot, meyer lemon, sweet tarragon, honeysuckle flowers, roasted almonds and subtle baking spices. The wine has a characteristic lush texture and body that is more reminiscent of red wines than whites. An ideal grape for any wine lover to try!

My mind is already racing with the many different cuisines I can pair this wine with. It definitely has some versatility to it. This Roussanne sees a slight kiss of some neutral oak aging making it an ideal match for foods with a little more body to them. As I swirl my glass I would love to go for a lobster pasta with this wine. The succulence and texture of the lobster with a creamy pasta dish that adds some fresh tarragon and spices hits all the checkpoints for a dish that’s sure to be a winning meal. Grab a bottle of this limited production wine while you can. You won’t want to miss out on these exciting flavors. Till next time oenophiles.... Cheers!


-Shannon Hurley, Certified Sommelier


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