Vino Paradiso, a wine bar and restaurant located NW 10th Avenue in Portland’s Pearl District, is currently offering a flight of white wines that are all blends using the grapes marsanne and roussanne. The three wines included are all from south-eastern France (two from the Rhône and one from the Languedoc) and each offers a diverse set of characteristics while remaining true to the grape varieties.
Both varieties are native to France’s Rhône Valley and play second fiddle to the valley’s primary white grape viognier. Often they are used for blending but in the controlled appellations (AOC) of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint-Joseph they steal the show with rich age-worthy white wines that offer a combination of fruit, floral, and mineral characteristics.
The flight currently features three wines, which contain varying proportions of marsanne and roussanne. All however are good white wines for sipping in cooler weather. While they offer adequate acidity—thus easily pairing with a number of foods—they also have enough heft on the palate to differentiate them from light summer wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. These would be excellent choices for cold-weather meals such as roasted winter squash galette, cheese soufflé, and creamy seafood chowder.
Château Lascaux 2009 Coteaux de Languedoc ($16 retail)
Made from a blend of marsanne, roussanne, rolle, and viognier. Medium intensity aromatics of fresh pear, soft lemon, and honeysuckle. On the palate it is a dry wine with medium acidity, medium body, and flavors of pear, lemon zest, and chalk.
Philippe Faury 2006 Saint Joseph Blanc ($26 retail)
A blend of 80% marsanne and 20% roussanne. Medium-full intensity aromatics of super-ripe melon, nectarine, dried flowers, and toasted hazelnuts. On the palate it is a dry wine with medium acidity, medium-full body, and flavors of yellow apple, cooked pear, and stewed tropical fruits.
Kermit Lynch 2008 “Sunflower Cuvée” Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc ($22 retail)
Uses a blend of 25% viognier, 37.5% marsanne, and 37.5% roussanne. Medium-full intensity aromatics of minerals, sugar snap peas, sweet herbs, and peach candy. On the palate it is an off-dry wine with medium acidity, medium body, and flavors of candied lemon peel, orange zest, and sweet apple.
The Kermit Lynch is soon to be replaced with the 2009 Mas Carlot from Costières de Nîmes.
Mas Carlot 2009 Costières de Nîmes ($13 retail approx)
Comprised of roussanne, marsanne, and viognier. Medium-full intensity aromatics of pungent flowers, herbs, lime zest, apricot, and tropical fruits. On the palate it is a dry wine with medium acidity, medium body, and flavors of fresh yellow apple, pear, and white flowers.
Vino Paradiso is located at 417 NW 10th Avenue – Portland, OR. They are open Tuesday through Thursday 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday/Saturday until 11 p.m. Call 503-295-9536 or e-mail for reservations.