Rhone whites are a difficult category, and one which is rarely found in wine shops in North America. I imagine this has mostly to do with familiarity as the quality of white wine from the Rhone, particularly the north, is consistently high and the wines are low in acid and so easy to appreciate. Perhaps, however, it is the lack of fruit in the Rhone white varieties that put some people off: they are more about texture and secondary flavour, not fruit.
As a result of its difficult saleability there has been a gap for these wines in B.C. for a few years. Recently a couple importers have decided to try again, bringing in two of the more exciting producers, friends and colleagues Francois Villard and Yves Cuilleron.
This Saint Peray, from a small appellation making rarely seen affordable Marsanne/Roussanne blends, is an outstanding example of the appellation and the varieties. It is a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne, fermented in oak with native yeasts and raised in barrel on its lees for 11 months. A beautiful waxy texture is nevertheless buoyed by fresh acids and very tasty lemon custard, apple and brine on the palate. It’s an excellent wine on its own, but also with seafood – perfect for Vancouver’s spring and summer foods.
I look forward to more of these wines coming into the market, and am particularly excited to see some of the beautiful Condrieus from Villard and Cuilleron. Villard is imported by Seacove.
$50 at Kits Wine