Marselan was created in 1961 by Paul Truel (1924 – 2014 ) by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.
The French ampelographer named it Marselan, after the seaside town Marseillan (50 km south of Montpellier) near where he worked at Domaine de Vassal.
The original hope was for the new crossing to be resistant to diseases and produce bountiful bunches of big berries and give high yield. Marselan did not do that and, instead, produces relatively small berries capable of yielding wine of character and quality.
As a result, Marselan fell out of favour in its birth country and, if still grown in France, is used mainly to blend with other varieties.
Paul Truel (left) photographed in 1999 on the 50th Anniversary of Domaine de Vassal, the research vineyard of France’s National Agronomy Insitute or INRA. To his left are research ampelographers Jean-Michel Boursiquot and Thierry Lacombe. Photo by courtesy of GiESCO
Marselan was first planted in China in 2001 at a joint Sino-French vineyard in Huailai, Hebei Province, by its Chief Winemaker Li Demei.
The first harvest in 2003 was used for blending and it was not until 2004 that China produced its first 100% Marselan wine.
Today, that original joint Sino-French winery is known as Domaine Franco Chinois. As for Li Demei – sometimes referred to as the “Father of Marselan in China” – he is a professor of oenology at the Beijing Agricultural College and China’s best-known wine consultant.
Professor LI De Mei (left) planted China’s first Marselan in 2001. The original joint Sino-French vineyard and winery in Hebei is today known as Domaine Franco Chinois. Together with CH’NG Poh Tiong, the duo gave a presentation on Chinese wine at ProWein Dusseldorf on 19 March 2023
Chinese Marselan has scored more success at international wine competitions than those of any other country. Wine lovers not only associate the variety with China, they practically identify the French hybrid with its adopted country.
The rise of Marselan can be directly attributed to China’s faith and devotion to this French creation.
On Saturday 25 November 2023, for the first time in Singapore, there will be a tasting of six Marselans from China.
Exclusive to ICCCW, seats are limited to The Rise of Marselan in China masterclass.
To reserve your place, book earliest at www.chngpohtiong.com/the-rise-of-marselan-in-china-masterclass