Marsanne 2017 Julien Cecillon ‘Cornilhac’ Northern Rhône, France
9 in stock
A visit to see Julien at the winery just a few months ago left me astonished that such a young winemaker working on his new label was producing wines at this level. But given his family’s rich history of making wine in this region I shouldn’t be surprised.
Sebastian Crowther, Master Sommelier
Marsanne (Mar-SAHN) is a traditional grape from the Vallée du Rhône in France. Here it has its greatest call to fame when used in the white wines from the Hill of Hermitage to make Hermitage Blanc. In this instance it’s often blended with its partner in crime Roussanne. In fact, Marsanne is part of the Sérine ampelographic group and DNA parentage analysis proposes a parent offspring connection between Marsanne and Rousanne. The grape can loosely be compared to Chardonnay and I would certainly recommend this wine to Chardonnay drinkers without hesitation. It’s a fuller style of wine, with texture.
The Northern Rhône is without questions one of my favourite wine regions on the planet and while most people spend their time lusting over the red wines, the Marsanne is certainly an unsung hero. While the Southern Rhône has a strong Mediterranean climate, the Northern Rhône is much more continental. It’s in this Northerly section of the Rhône where you find Saint Joseph, the region where 20% of the grapes for this wine come from. A further 40% of the grapes come from the Ardéche, an area sitting between the Northern & Southern Rhône. It’s a rugged part of France, but capable of growing wonderful grapes. The final 40% come from Saint Péray, it’s an appellation in the Southern part of the Northern Rhône. Marsanne is the main grape and the source of some of the most exciting wines in the region. Due to the fact that this wine has grapes coming from areas all over the Rhône it doesn’t have a specific appellation on the label, but rather the grapes name. It’s a new world take from an old world region.
Cave Julien Cecillon was founded in 2011 by Julien and his now wife Nancy Kerschen. Julien grew up in Tournon-sur-Rhône a small village opposite the famous hill of Hermitage. He was surrounded in his youth by great wine and iconic producers such as his cousin Bernard Faurie, and uncle Jean-Louis Grippat. It was at a very young age that the caught the wine bug and who can blame him. As soon as possible Julien took the opportunity to roam the globe, learning everything he could. This saw him in such cellars as Yves Cuilleron, Christophe Curtat, Fabrice Gripa, JC Cellars, Clos du Val, Saintsbury, Indevin and Saronsberg. It was during these years working in American that he met Nancy.
I had the pleasure to visit Julien and Nancy at their home in France. We tasted their wines extensively, walked the vineyards and I learnt their story. Immediately I was taken by it all. Their production is miniscule, and I have only been able to import a tiny amount of these wines, but I couldn’t bear not to have them available for you in Australia.
While Marsanne has reared its head all over the world, it never really seems to reach the heights that it does in this valley. Here it shows its full colours and this wine is a prime example. Stone fruits of peach and nectarine present just ahead of a lovely back drop of savoury characters. Marzipan, almond, sea spray, chalk and spice. The palate has a whip of acidity that keeps it so fresh and clean. There is a lovely textured element too, partly a varietal character, but also a clever use of neutral cask and fine lees contact that build layers. It’s important that the wine isn’t served too cold as this will mask some of the more subtle elements and dramatically change the texture, that I think are so important. When drinking it I find myself reaching for the white Burgundy glasses, that extra room allows the wine to show off all those vibrant characters and helps it unravel as it’s swirled in the glass. This is a food wine, textured whites always are. While there is body in this wine, there is also a subtlety of flavour. A dish that’s hearty while not being overpowering is important. For that reason, I’ve selected the ultimate comfort food. Pie. Enjoy being transported to one of the great wine producing regions, The Northern Rhône.