Today is World Marselan Day. While Marselan is a French varietal, you’ll be hard pressed to find any of its wines in France these days let alone French Marselans in Australia. That said, China is fast becoming known for Marselan.
In this article, we tell you about Marselan – its origins, the wines it produces and its other popular growing regions around the world. While we can’t find any French wine importers who stock French Marselans, we have found two online stores selling French wines of this varietal.
WHAT IS MARSELAN?
Marselan is a blue coloured grape and red wine which came about after the crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The idea was to marry Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure and elegance with Grenache’s disease-resistance and high yields.
It took its name from the local town Marseillan.
HOW OLD IS MARSELAN?
The Marselan grape was created in 1961 by scientist Professor Paul Truel. However, it’s small berries lead to it being shelved for many years. It was only in 1990 that the vine was submitted for approval for commercial release and was entered in the official register of grape varieties.
WHAT ARE THE GRAPES LIKE?
Marselan grapes come on big fruit bunches (good for achieving higher yields) with small berries, which means there is a higher proportion of skins leading to richer flavours, deeper colours and more tannic wines.
In addition, the grapes are resistant to disease and are a late ripening grape.
WHAT ARE MARSELAN WINES LIKE?
Jancis Robinson describes the varietal as tending to produce deeply coloured and highly aromatic wines that have supple tannins and the potential to age.
MARSELAN GROWING REGIONS AND THEIR WINES
In its birthplace of France, Marselan plantings totalled 3,351 acres (1,356 hectares) in 2009. The majority of these plantings are found in the Languedoc and southern Rhône Valley.
In France, Marselan is mainly used in in blends. That said, some varietal examples have been produced in the Languedoc with the first such varietal being produced in 2002 in Carcassonne. In 2019, Marselan became one of four new red grapes authorized in Bordeaux wine production to combat temperature increases in Bordeaux.
The first vines of this varietal were planted in Spain in 1990 in the Catalonia region across the Pyrénées from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region. Today, Marselan can be found in the Penedès, Terra Alta and Valencia regions.
In Switzerland, the grape is blended with Arinarnoa, Caladoc, Carminoir, Ederena, Egiodola, and Malbec in the town of Chardonne in the Vaud canton.
A nursery in Bakersfield, California has been selling cuttings of the variety to California wine producers in the North Coast region. The grape is also being grown in Willcox, Arizona, at Dragoon Vineyards.
In Argentina, the varietal was introduced in 1998 and as of 2008 there were 195 acres (79 hectares) planted mostly in the Mendoza wine region. In 2007, Brazil reported 59 acres (24 hectares) of the vine.
Marselan was introduced to China in 2001. By 2017, China had over 267 hectares of plantings of the grape, mostly located in the south of Xinjiang, followed by Gansu, Ningxia and Huailai of Hebei.
WHERE TO BUY MARSELAN IN AUSTRALIA
We’ve found two French Marselans available for sale in Australia.
It is described as:
“Dark, deep colour with a violet tint, the nose is intense, with blackcurrant, plum, spice, black pepper and slightly oaked and it tastes full, rich, well balanced and long. Enjoy with red meat, cheeses.”
Good Pair Days has a French Marselan/Syrah blend called Oh la la Rouge available on its website for $23.
Of it they say:
“Here blended with Syrah, it makes a full-bodied wine with plenty of flavours. Rich right off the bat with concentrated bramble fruits and smooth chocolaty flavours. Followed by, layers of dried lavender, freshly cracked pepper and warming spices. There’s an intriguing movement of flavours here from start to finish that hit a great balance of earthiness and ripe fruit with a kick!”
WORLD MARSELAN DAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA
World Marselan Day is the initiative of Jim Boyce at the Grape Wall of China. It is celebrated on 27 April, the date being chosen because it is the same as the grape’s creator, Truel’s birth date in 1924.
Celebrate the varietal and the day by tagging @worldmarseland1 and using the #worldmarselanday on your photos. Also tag us @matildamarseillaise so we can see what you’re drinking and how you’re celebrating the day.
Have you ever tried Marselan?
You may also like to read our other articles about other French varietals: