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The Marsanne family, as their name attests, has a long and deep-rooted history in the northern Rhône, in particular around Mauves, the birthplace of the Saint-Joseph appellation. In 1920, current owner Jean-Claude’s grandfather, Jean-Pierre, became the first in the family to focus solely on vineyards—no easy task given the impossibly steep slopes of Mauves, where everything must be worked by hand and pickaxe. Jean-Pierre started with just a few small parcels, selling off his crop to prestigious négociants, and was quickly renowned throughout the region for the exceptional quality of his grapes. His untimely passing in 1950 forced his son, Jean, to quit school at age 16 to take over the domaine. He continued his father’s work in earnest, his vineyards often being recognized amongst the village’s best, not just for their exposition and soil, but also for the attention to detail young Jean paid to each vine. The grape sales financed some small land purchases in and around Mauves, and the domaine slowly grew to 3 hectares. In 1970, Jean made the leap to begin making and bottling the wines himself. Over time, a small, but loyal following developed, especially among France’s fine dining establishments, which valued the finesse and elegance of Marsanne’s cuvées. The domaine remained largely unknown on the international scene, overlooked by many journalists and clients who sought out bolder, more extracted styles.
Since taking over from Jean in 1991, Jean-Claude has continued to add select new parcels, growing the domaine to 9.6 hectares. While still mostly focused on Syrah from the hallowed terroir of Mauves, he now farms a few small plots of Marsanne for his Saint-Joseph blanc, as well as some Viognier and Syrah in the Ardèche hills west of the village. He also inherited a superb plot of Crozes-Hermitage that once belonged to his grandmother.
Lieux-dits Chalaix, Les Côtes, Paradis, Montagnon, Les Oliviers, Saint-Joseph, and Cotes des Rivoires. Aged for 12-15 months in 600L demi-muids (70-80%) and 228L barrels (20-30%). Minimal sulfur added after malolactic fermentation is complete.
This Saint-Joseph is very expressive, tasty and drinks beautiful out of the gates. Highly recommended.
Producer: Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne
Region: Rhône Valley