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Apr 12, 2014
Wines of the Week
Published April 12, 2014
White Rhone Varietals – Viognier
Part One of a 3-Part Series
By Chuck Hill
What an exciting time to be following Rhone varietals. Twenty years ago, Syrah started it all and has become a hallmark varietal of Washington State with additional interest created by blends of Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon. Viognier was the first white Rhone varietal to make its mark and continues to expand throughout the west. Building on consumers’ interest for more varied offerings, white Rhone varietals like Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul are showing up as varietal bottlings or in blends.
Today, I celebrate Viognier, the basis for French Rhone white wines. In the Pacific Northwest, it has found a home throughout the Columbia Valley and in Oregon sites in the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue Valleys. The 2012 vintage yielded slightly less ripe styles, offering more mineral and citrus character and less of the spicy-bubblegum, tropical and over-the-top floral aromas and flavors.
A note about your refrigerator: it does too good a job. Viognier wines served at 40 degrees are closed and hard to evaluate. Let refrigerated wines warm up for an hour or so (to about 55 degrees) to let the aroma and flavor show through....
Before jumping in to notes on the winery’s Viognier, let me mention Maryhill’s concert lineup for 2014. Vintage rock fans like me will appreciate: Styx and Foreigner (August 2), Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus (August 23), and Ian Anderson performing The Best of Jethro Tull (Sept. 13) – whooo-hoo. On the tasty Viognier, look for aromas and flavors of peach and honey with spicy floral notes and a crisp citrus acid finish.