Episode 132: A Mid-October’s Marselan Grape Gab
October’s grape gab is about the Marselan, a red grape only slightly older than Val. We’re celebrating Steph’s wedding anniversary, sipping 2006 California wines, talking tastevins and Koji, and bringing National Pork Month full circle. It’s all happening in this episode, and we hope you’ll pour a glass and drink along with us. (Recorded 10 October, 2017)
In Our Glasses
“I’m being a little sneaky and opened this 2006 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon a few hours early. See today is my 11th wedding anniversary, and Justin’s helping me tonight in the kitchen. We are staying in! I think I’ll just tell him that I opened it up early to see if it needed decanting. I’ll just leave out the part that I wanted to drink it on the podcast with our Wine Two Fivers.”
“I’m drinking a toast to Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa this morning (afternoon, whatever) with Turley’s 2006 (STEPH’S ANNIVERSARY YEAR!!) “Moore Earthquake Vineyard” Napa Zinfandel. We need to send out much love and light to our friends in California faced with these devastating wildfires. So in addition to all of the other bullshit going on in the world, and this country, I decided life is short, and opened the Turley.”
The Moore Earthquake Vineyard was planted in 1905 and is registered as one of California’s legendary historic vineyards. https://www.historicvineyardsociety.org/appelletions-vineyards/coombsville/r.w.-moore/
So let’s raise it up today to a little American wine heritage. Of course we’re going to sip American wine, but talk about a grape with French origins – it’s the ultimate irony of many of our grape gabs.
*California Wildfire Information*
Since the recording of this episode numerous organizations have been brought to our attention that are helping provide relief efforts. This article provides a comprehensive list of not only these organizations, but ways you can help.
More links and information here: http://www.californiavolunteers.org/index.php/Disaster_Volunteering/current_disasters/
Marselan: A Mid-October’s Grape Gab
When grapes like this pop up on our radar, it’s not always the case we have them in the house. So we’re sure you’re wondering, why did we choose this grape? Steph has seen it twice recently – once in Decanter China and again through Kermit Lynch.
Marselan has only been around since shortly before Val was born. It’s a cross between the Spanish grape, Garnacha (called Grenache in France) and Cabernet Sauvignon. It also goes by the sexy synonym of INRA 1810-68.
For a little historical context, it all started in 1961 in Montpellier, France. Paul Truel was the director of the INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) at the time, and the research that led to the cross was part of a joint effort with ENSAM (Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Arts et Metiers).
They developed the variety out of a desire for a grape that had big berries and would be high-yielding. But size does matter, boys and girls, because the cross resulted in small berries – and it was subsequently kicked to the curb. It wasn’t until nearly 30 years, in 1990, later that the grape was registered as an official variety with the Domaine de Vassal’s collection in the Grapevine Biological Resource Centre. By the way, the nearby town of Marseillan is this grape’s namesake.
The main reason for the grape’s resurgence was its ability to resist disease. As it was developed in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, that is its natural home.
Marselan in the USA: http://www.ngr.ucdavis.edu/fgrdetails.cfm?varietyid=2442
Where it Grows
There are single varietal Marselan wines from vineyards near the South of France from Roussillon to the Rhone. The grape is also growing in Spain, China, Israel, Eastern Europe, South America, Australia and the US.
By the way, did you know they made wine in Tunisia in North Africa? Because it grows there too. As a side note, Tunisia has seven AOCs (based on the French system) and produce mostly rose’ (60%) and red (30%) wine.
In the glass
In the glass, Marselan can be aromatic, approachable and round in the mouth, with ripe red fruits, and also blackberry and black cherry flavors. It is deeply colored (think of its parents and skin-to-pulp ration), medium- to full-bodied with soft tannins. It’s food friendly, great with meats, rich, hearty casseroles like the traditional cassoulet of Languedoc-Roussillon, zesty pasta dishes, and cheeses.
While there are some producers making single varietal Marselan, it’s more commonly found in blends with Southern Rhone and Bordeaux grape varieties.
What is a tastevin? It is a small, shallow, silver/reflective wine tasting cup traditionally carried by sommeliers during service to evaluate the wine before serving the guest.
Steph: “On my recent Europe trip, I had two run-ins with tastevins! How strange. Especially since my dad bought me one way back in 2008 as a gift, and it’s remained in my wine gadget drawer since. The day after the Marathon du Medoc we signed-up for an organized 10K walk and lunch at Chateau Liversan. At the first hydration stop, they gave everyone a tastevin and poured wine in it. There was no water to be seen. So much for hydration. The stops continued and the wine flowed. Our tastevins dangling around our necks. It was a riot! Then when Justin and I were in Prague, we went to a snazzy restaurant called Kampa Park and had superior wine service from the sommelier. It was my first time seeing a somm use a tastevin at tableside service. I was under the impression they weren’t used anymore.”
Steph: Today, October 10th, The Drinks Business published an article and the opinion by winemaker David Bicknell of Oakridge Wines in Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia that terroir is being used too often as a marketing tool. He says “Terroir gets used as a way to sell the wine and doesn’t completely reflect the reality of what goes on inside the winery.”
Val: What is Koji? It’s a mold that grows on the rice used to make sake. So what it does is breaks down the starches in the rice to create fermentable sugars that can then be, well, fermented, or made into alcohol by introducing yeast.
Yummy, right? Well, peep this, out fly, funky, fresh-in-the-flesh W25 fungus-loving food fans: people are putting it on food. According to an article in Cook’s Science last year by Cynthia Graber, it’s a thing. Cynthia writes this captivating article about the history of koji in America, her fascination with the aromas of koji, and her excitement about chowing down on a mold-encrusted pork chop.
And welcome to #NationalPorkMonth. Back where we started.
Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Rose #WBC17
The Wine Two Five Podcast will be representin’ this year at the Wine Blogger’s Conference: https://winebloggersconference.org/about/ November 9-12, 2017 in Santa Rosa. Please come and say hi!
Thanks, Val, for my new, sexy International Podcast Day shirt!!! I was so excited when I opened your package this weekend. I forced myself to wait and wear it for our recording date.
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