Y. Rousseau: Napa’s Little Gascony

August 17, 2017

Sometimes life leads you down a road you hadn’t intended to travel—or perhaps didn’t even know was there—and leads you into opportunities you never thought possible. This is Yannick Rousseau’s story. A son of southwest France’s Gascony region, Yannick was introduced to wine at an early age. Gascony is known for its delicious, rich food, daily wine consumption and impressive longevity of the inhabitants. His life-long journey in wine started when he was 5 years old and drank his first glass of homemade wine with Pépé, his grandpa. Pépé hunted his own food, made his own wine, and was an artisan butcher.

With these down-to-earth farming sensibilities engrained in Yannick, he began his winemaking journey with a degree at Toulouse University, where he fell in love with the Colombard grape variety. Colombard is many times used as a blending grape in southern France, but its personality can shine beautifully on its own if given enough care.

Eventually, Yannick found himself in California at Newton Vineyards and later Chateau Potelle Winery, honing his winemaking skills before heading back to his beloved Gascony. He’d never intended to stay in California long. But he fell in love—first with Napa Valley’s terroir and then, with his wife Susan. Together, they have put all their knowledge, experience, and passion in the Y. Rousseau project, crafting small-lot, artisanal wines.

Y. Rousseau Old Vine Colombard 2016To be able to now offer Yannick’s wines to you here in Minnesota is a thing we don’t take lightly. These are Californian wines to be sure, but they have a layer of depth and rootedness that keeps them beautifully in balance. We’re proud to have his soulful Merlot on our shelves, along with—of course—his Colombard, which has been one of Yannick’s most popular wines since the advent of his winery in 2008. You can take Yannick out of Gascony, but you can’t take Gascony out of Yannick.

Y. Rousseau Merlot 2013

This weekend, you’ll get to sample the Y. Rousseau Old Vine Colombard, born of a small plot of older Colombard vines in a lonely Russian River Valley Vineyard. This Colombard is so pure and mouth-watering that one immediately wants to be transported to the seaside on a hot day. The smells of jasmine, honeysuckle, juicy peach, and freshly-cut pineapple excite the nose. On the palate, the wine is textured, elegant and mineral (thanks, skin contact and old vines!). As the flavors of tropical fruit and lemon zest linger in the mouth, one wants to pause and savor them. Pausing is a good thing, because this Colombard tends to disappear quickly, we’ve heard.