Diagonal Debate #1 – Roussanne


If a horizontal tasting is different wines of the same variety from the same year but different vineyards and a vertical tasting is different years of the same wine then to taste different years and different producers of the same grape variety could logically be described as a diagonal tasting. A few of the walkabout crew got together at the end of February to do a diagonal tasting of Roussanne. It was difficult to source too many pure Roussannes as most of the time (including in France where the grape originates) it is blended with Marsanne and often Viognier in RMV blends.

The wines tasted were Alkimi 2015 Roussanne ($28 per bottle at Barrique in Healesville since the winery doesn’t have a cellar door), St Huberts 2016 Roussanne ($33 at the cellar door) and Tahbilk 2018 Rossanne ($18.35 or $16.50 for club members).

Each of us tried each of the wines without discussion, made some notes and then ranked the wines in order of favouritism. We didn’t discuss price since we were wanting to only look at quality (and the most expensive one was $33 which is quite reasonable for a good white).

Alkimi 2015 Roussanne: This wine had a deep golden colour, similar to a well aged Marsanne. The nose too was quite similar to a Marsanne, but probably a few years older than this. The nose showed evidence of oak, probably French given the grape’s origins and they style of the wine. The palate was reasonably complex with good fruit flavours, passionfruit and even some mango flavours present.

St Huberts 2016 Roussanne: Lighter in colour, but a nice tinge of green. Some oak in the nose as well; again similar to a youngish Marsanne. There is some acid in the palate and through the finish but it fades nicely although the finish is painfully too short. The fruit level is reasonable and may improve with age as the acid subsides.

Tahbilk 2018 Roussanne: Light gold in colour, typical of Tahbilk white wines. The aroma is almost like Sauvignon Blanc with the floral aromas that come through. Reasonable intensity and very inviting. The palate is similar to a Pinot Gris with apple flavours present. Some tropical fruits (not as strong as in a Verdelho) come through. The palate grows in complexity and comes in nice layers. There is lots of fruit and the finish is exceptionally long.

The verdict: Each of the wines was ranked favourite by at least one taster and in the end it was a very close decision. Alkimi was in the end voted the group favourite followed by Tahbilk and St Huberts came third. A discussion then followed whereby it was agreed that the age of the Alkimi wine helped its case a lot, so the other two should be tasted again in a few years to see how they have matured.

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