Line Shack: Roussanne Meets Juicy Fruit


The winery really has a line shack.

I didn’t expect to like this wine.

Even though I didn’t have a lot to go on, since I’d only tasted enough Roussannes to count on the fingers of one hand, I had decided I probably wouldn’t like it.

But I had a bottle of Lineshack Roussanne with me while doing a segment on WFMJ-TV. I hadn’t even uncorked it yet when someone pulled a tray of freshly baked crab cakes out of the studio oven. Did I mention I love crab cakes?

So in a second I decided to trade my Roussanne for a taste of the crab cakes. I ran to the test kitchen for the “Let’s all taste today’s recipe on the air” segment, uncorked the Lineshack and poured it around. And guess what happened? They started raving more about the Roussanne than about the crab cakes! Even me!bottle

So enough preamble. Let’s talk about this white grape that’s not exactly a household name to U.S. wine drinkers.

Roussanne and its BFF Marsanne come from the Rhone River Valley region in southern France. They’ve been adopted relatively recent by California’s Rhone Rangers, who are winemakers with a passion for growing Rhone varietals. The character of a Roussanne-based wine varies with the climate in which it’s grown; cooler climate Roussanne is more delicate and crisp, while warm-climate areas (such as California’s Central Coast) produce a richer, more full-bodied wine.

I guess that explains it: I’d only tasted the floral, lean, acidic style of Roussanne, instead of Lineshack Roussanne San Antonio Valley 2008. The fruit for this wine is grown in a high mountain valley at the southern end of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, adjacent to the West Side of Paso Robles. I’ve spent some time in Paso (this is gonna be another Napa someday, so go see it now) and I remember those hot summer days. It could be pushing 95 degrees, until someone flipped a switch around 4:00 in the afternoon and cool breezes started rushing up the Templeton Gap from the Pacific. By nightfall, you had your jacket on.

I was surprised by Lineshack Roussanne’s rich, lush fruit. See, I hadn’t even stopped to do all the swirling and sniffing stuff — I just tossed it back. So my first sip shocked me with its bright burst of sweet tropical fruit, just like Juicy Fruit gum, right in the mid-palate. The finish was crisp but not tart, and very clean. “Wow!” was all I could say.

So meanwhile back at the winery: the technical notes explained that the vineyard from which the grapes are sourced produces very low yields. That’s a good thing, because the less fruit that hangs on the vines, the more intense will be the flavors in each grape. The wine was also aged in neutral French oak barrels, which in non-wine-speak means that the wine was softened but didn’t pick up any oak flavors that might have interfered with or masked the bright fruit.

Finally, the Roussanne was joined by not one but two BFF’s; Marsanne and Viognier. Both are Rhone varietals that pair with Roussanne like beans and rice.

So that’s all for the technical talk. The bottom line is this: Lineshack Roussanne is a great new find for all you white drinkers out there who want ABC — Anything But Chardonnay. And for around $17, you can lay in a few bottles without breaking the bank. I’d try it if I were you.


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