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2008 Olson Ogden Marsanne Margaret’s Mandate Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley

As Summer approaches many wine enthusiasts start moving from red to white. That doesn’t have to mean a steady diet of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc though. There’s a wide variety of... varieties from which to choose. Whether you’re looking for a solo sipper, an appertif or wine to go with a meal, there’s sure to be a number of whites you’ll find engaging.

While you’re looking for something interesting to try, don’t forget Marsanne. Marsanne is typically used in blends with Roussanne for a Northern Rhone-style wine or with a host of white grapes as one might find in Chateauneuf du Pape. While often overlooked as a single varietal wine, Marsanne can be charming on its own. Choose carefully though, if proper measures aren’t taken in the vineyard and winery, Marsanne can produce a wine that is flabby and one dimensional. It is in the grape’s nature to run toward high alcohol and low acidity.

In California, where we have plentiful sun and warmth, it easy for grapes like Marsanne to go the wrong way. Happily, Olson Odgen has done a great job with theirs. The wine carries 14.7% alcohol but has plenty of acidity. I found the wine to be both pretty and refreshing — not the least bit flabby.

You can adjust the character of this particular wine to your liking through your choice of serving temperature. If you chill the wine to 58 degrees Fahrenheit, the aromas and flavors are of both fresh and canned pear with a pinch of baking spice and the barest hint of vanilla. You’ll find medium body, pleasant acidity and the alcohol will be imperceptible until the finish. At this temperature, it is a good alternative to unoaked Chardonnay.

Serve the Olson Ogden Marsanne five degrees warmer for a fleshier wine that makes an interesting alternative to more traditional Chardonnay. The body will be more substantial. The fruit becomes peach and apricot. You will find more intense baking spice with the cinnamon highlighted by peppery alcohol. Honeysuckle aromas and flavors of wax and marzipan also appear.

Either way you serve the 2008 Olson Ogden Marsanne, it’s a very good wine and varietally correct. It’s also a wine that is somewhat delicate in nature. The color is light lemon, some might call it pale straw. It’s fermented dry and is light enough in body that it doesn’t leave legs in the glass. The finish is clean though not particularly long. Don’t overwhelm the wine with strongly flavored or textured food. I would serve it with light seafood dishes or chicken breast cooked sous vide. I tried it with mild Brie cheese and that worked too. Drink now through 2013. Highly Recommended.


Olson Ogden Marsanne Margaret’s Mandate Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2013

Retail Price: $35
Fermention: Stainless steel and French oak (28% new)

Alcohol: 14.7%

Closure: Cork

This wine was provided by the winery for review. The wine was not tasted blind as I didn't have other Marsanne on hand.

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