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Andrew Rich Roussanne 2012
A large and geographically diverse AVA responsible for a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington State’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA extends into northern Oregon as well. Because of its vast size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which is further split into three more even smaller AVAs. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences cold winters and long, dry growing seasons. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling, the styles of which depend on the warmth of the site. Citrus and green apple are common to both in cooler sites, while warmer vineyards will produce riper, fleshier stone fruit flavors.
Full and silky in body but also charmingly crisp, Roussanne makes a stellar blending grape. Thought to be native to the Rhone River Valley of France, and still predominantly grown there, it is responsible for some of the finest Northern Rhône white wines. Roussanne adds richness and acidity to Marsanne’s soft, fruitiness, making the age worthy and highly respected whites from the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and St. Joseph. It has earned approval as one of the white varieties for Châteauneuf-du-Pape
In the Glass
Persistent aromas of exotic herbal tea, a full body nearly as complex as a red wine, and distinct apricot and honey flavors make Roussanne unique. With age, the wines gain a more oily and glycerin texture.
Richer fish dishes such as salmon, lobster, crab or grilled shrimp work well with Roussanne and its blends. A meal of roast chicken with herbs and winter vegetables is also delicious. Stuffed Butternut Squash, vegetarian curry and baked brie with apricots are other ideas to pair with Roussanne based wines.
Roussanne takes its name from the French word “roux,” meaning rouge or red because of the grapes’ pink glow. In California, virtually all of the 339 acres of Roussanne come from true clones brought over by Tablas Creek and John Alban.