April 26, 2023 – What the heck is World Marselan Day? Which brings us to what the heck is Marselan? It’s a red wine grape but don’t feel bad if you have never heard of it. Me neither!
Marselan is a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache which was created in 1961 by French ampelographer (an expert in the study and classification of cultivated varieties of grape) Paul Truel in 1961 at the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) in Montpelier. The name was a nod to the nearby town of Marseillan close to the INRA vineyard at Domaine de Vassal. Paul Truel worked there from 1952 until 1985.
The hybrid grape happily acquired all the good features of its parentage such as the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and the heat and pest resistance of Grenache. But the berries were small meaning lower yields and back in the 60s, vintners were more interested in quantity than quality limiting interest in this new varietal. As the wine scene evolved and quality, not quantity became the driving force for winemakers, interest in Marselan revived and it is now planted in many countries including China, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Turkey, Spain and of course, France. Since 2021 it is approved for Bordeaux and in 2007 the name was approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for use on wine labels imported to the United States.
Several of the countries listed above, plus others, export Marselan to the United States but I couldn’t find any domestic producers. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any as it could be used as a blending wine or produced in limited quantities for their tasting rooms and wine clubs. Prices for imports varied from a $7.00 for a French Syrah-Marselan blend to a Reserve Marselan from Israel for $171.00. Reviews indicate that this is a wine worth searching out and enjoying. We’re on the hunt in our corner of California and hope we find one for Thursday. But if not, there’s always the next day and the day after that.
For more interesting information about Marselan and especially its creator, Paul Truel, check out here, which is put together by Jim Boyce, who is delving into the history of the grape and the man behind it. And let us know if you find a bottle of Marselan and your opinion of it.