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VIOGNIER 2

July 23, 2001 • Bailey-Cannon Wine Merchants

Disappointed that I missed our scheduled Viognier tasting, I arranged for this "auxiliary" tasting. For a "standard of excellence", we included the Rosenblum which virtually ran away with the previous tasting. After ranking, we sampled again, using Roy's Thai Rice Noodle Shrimp Salad as a foil. After two sessions of Viognier, the overall consensus of the group is that the distinctive traits of this grape might best be used for blending, rather than as a stand-alone varietal.
Brand
Vintage Varietal or "Name"
Appellation, Vineyard
Tasting Notes: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish, alcohol %. Summary. ($ paid)
**consensus (flaws?)**

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (Listed Alphabetically within each category)

Vinum Cellars
2000 Viognier
San Benito County, Vista Verde Vineyard

Light straw, very slightly dull; young, freshly fermented and bubblegum overtones to intense, peach, pear, apple, strawberry and melon fruit aromas, with lychee nut, honeysuckle, floral, oaky and slight "green" notes in the background; very rich, ripe, peach, apple, spicy, green olive and slightly oaky flavors with some mineral elements, fat mouthfeel; good "backbone", well-balanced; pleasant, clean and very long finish, 14.1%. Youthfully vigorous, very enjoyable to drink and quite good with the food; a very nice showing for a not-often-noticed appellation. ($20.)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Chumeia
1999 Viognier
California (Madera)

Pale straw; light, delicate, fresh, clean, tropical, orange, pear, honeysuckle, floral, vanilla, caramel and "gravelly" aromas; light, stark, fresh, apricot, melon, mineral (medicinal?) and somewhat oaky, barrel flavors, some complexity, soft mouthfeel; balanced, sweet and crisp; clean, long, but not intense (tiresome? awkward?) finish, 14.3%. Straightforward, but quite drinkable and another good match with our spicy salad; the price and quality make this a good "entry-level" Viognier. ($11.) BEST BUY

Gregory Graham
2000 Viognier
Napa Valley

Light straw; somewhat closed-in, complex aroma with peach, butterscotch, vanilla, gardenia, peppermint, varnish, some initial matchstick and cardboard-filter pad; fresh, simple, good fruit, somewhat floral, yeasty, toasty, with an initial "bite" to slightly mineral, smoky, or petroleum flavors; good mouthfeel, supple and round; crisp balance; flavors smooth out in the short, pleasant finish, 14.5% The group seemed to like the flavors and drier style of this wine enough to forgive the subtly odd elements of the nose. ($27.)

Tesoro
1999 Viognier
Paso Robles, Fralich Vineyard

Pale gold; fresh, ripe, fruity, tropical, citrus, pear, peach, spice, oak and leesy, malolactic scents of vanilla, cream and butter, the nose was vague and somewhat closed at first, "grew" with warming; light, pleasant, fruity, peach, pineapple, green apple, and slightly grassy flavors with a soft mouthfeel (overly extracted?); slightly rich, good acidity; clean, but faintly hot in the finish, 14.5%. This wine was very nice on its own; it also matched up well to the spicy flavors of the Thai shrimp, although the alcohol became noticeable. ($26.)

RECOMMENDED

Rosenblum
2000 Viognier
Lodi, Ripkin Vineyard

Light straw; freshly fermented, tutti-frutti, tropical, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, pear, red apple, floral and fresh aromas (musty?); sweet, very ripe to overripe apricot, sweet apple, slightly herbaceous, and bitter almond flavors; fat balance, although a little hollow in the center, tangy with some possible initial tingle or CO2; crisp, clean, candied finish with a trace of bitterness, 14.6%. Somewhat surprisingly, the best match with the food; and, although this bottle didn't show as well as in the previous tasting, it again is a well-made varietal example that makes an easy-drinking, enjoyable wine. ($11.50) BEST BUY

NOT RECOMMENDED

Arrowood
1998 Viognier
Russian River Valley, 2Saralee's Vineyard

Light straw; green apple, citrus, herbal-minty, somewhat woody, piney aromas, with hints of (metal?, Roquefort?, matchstick? manure?); sweet vanilla, apply, melony, balsam, piney, odd (funky?) flavors are somewhat overripe and fading; good balance and acidity; very long finish mingles sweet, bitter and hot, 13.9%. Although this wine improved very slightly as it warmed, it seems to be at the waning edge of its enjoyable life; drink it up with grilled or salt-baked fish. ($27.)

Bonny Doon
1999 1(Viognier)
San Luis Obispo County

Light straw; very light, citrus, lemon, orange blossom, honey, green pear, hay, and enough pepperminty, resiny, petrol, (acetic acid?) and faintly chemical aromas so that the overall impression is not particularly varietal; generally weak peach, butterscotch, and quite resiny flavors; lack of fruit makes wine seem thin; both sweetness and acidity are noticeable, not balanced; slightly harsh, bitter, "green" finish, 14.2%. Not a good showing for Bonny Doon - one taster commented: "a flatliner, barely breathing". ($18)


NOTES
1Labeling Insight: in Randall Grahm's inimitable cheeky and referential style, this wine is labeled "The grape formerly known as...", since it came from grapes harvested off vines originally thought to be the Rousanne variety, which later were found to be viognier.
BACK

2Vineyard is named after Saralee Kunde and is part of this prominent Sonoma county wine growing family's holdings. BACK


This Panel included Regulars Mark, Deanna, Roy, Jon, Ray, Tammy, Ron Jim, and Guests Bob and Brigeen
Previous Viognier • About Viognier


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