by Fred McMillin
for August 18, 1997

Rooting for Roussanne


  • 60 A.D.—Pliny the Elder enjoyed a golden wine containing Roussan [sic] centuries before monks produced it.

    ...from "Monks and Wine" by Desmond Seward

The Rest of the Story: The Roussanne (roo-sahn) is a child of the Rhone Valley. Phoenicians planted the first wine vines in the Valley. Four centuries later the Romans had found the Roussanne there, as Pliny indicated. Today, Rhone Roussanne plantings have been declining ...because of health problems. However, here in California Shirley Sobon tells me the vine is alive and is the white wine it produces.

My tasters were impressed, rating it above some bottles in the $20 to $35 range. Try a bottle and find out why the Roussanne has been around for 2000 years.

1996 Roussanne, California Shenandoah Valley
Sobon Estate
Tasting Notes—Flavors range from citrus and flinty to almost caramel. Pleasantly different from Chardonnay.
Food Affinities—Well-seasoned pasta, chicken, and fish dishes.
Composition—Roussanne plus a good splash of the Rhone favorite, Viognier.
Contact—Robert Sobon, (209) 245-4455

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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