Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Roussanne From Jean-Paul Brun

Brun Roussanne
As a sort of addendum to the roussanne blind tasting I hosted last summer I recently drank the 2008 Roussanne from Jean-Paul Brun. According to an article at Crush Wine's site this is the first commercial release of this steel-and-cement vinified Beaujolais-bred roussanne. Yes: roussanne from the Beaujolais, thus its Vin de Table label, as the variety is not recognized there. It's a bit north of its typical Rhône home, which may help explain the 12% alcohol level.

Although the label advises one should drink up quickly due to the very low sulphur additions, this held up well over two days. Full pear and apple flavors are delivered in the context of a creamy texture enhanced by minerals, savory hazelnut tones, a top note of chalk and smoke — as if nuts had been lightly toasted — and a slight bitterness that's very nice to experience. There's a lot going on here, but it all seems effortlessly complete and together, and not overly intellectual.

The grapes spring from Brun's yellow limestone (terres dorées), not unlike the limestone soils in (warm) western Paso Robles and the (cool) Chignin cru of Savoie where roussanne can also excel. That said, roussanne can also perform very well in a variety of soils, including granitic and volcanic soils. The grape is a bitch from the farmer's perspective but if mesoclimactic conditions are favorable then a roussanne can be a particularly interesting wine from mineral-giving soils, and a rebuke to anyone who thinks that whites are inherently less interesting and serious than reds. To winemakers in such sites I say: more, please.

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