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Heather Johnston, demonstrates how easy and delicious grilled clams can be, and pairs them with three satisfying Chardonnays.

Picpoul Blanc | White Wines

June 25th, 2008

Picpoul Blanc White Grape Picpoul Blanc (also spelled Piquepoul Blanc) is one of the lesser-known Rhône varietals, but one that we think has a tremendous future in California. It is one of the thirteen permitted varietals in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is used primarily as a blending component to take advantage of its acidity. Like the better known Grenache and Pinot, Picpoul has red, white and pink variants, though Picpoul Noir and Picpoul Gris are very rare. Literally translating to “lip stinger”, Picpoul Blanc produces wines known in France for their bright acidity, minerality, and clean lemony flavor.

Picpoul in France

Most scholars believe Picpoul is native to the Languedoc region of Southern France, where it is still found today. Records from the early 17th century indicate that it was blended with Clairette (another white Rhône varietal) to form the popular sweet Picardan wine (not to be confused with the Chateauneuf du Pape varietal of the same name) which was exported by Dutch wine traders from Languedoc throughout Northern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the phylloxera invasion at the end of the 19th century, Picpoul was not widely replanted. Today it is best known from Picpoul de Pinet, the crisp light green wine of the Pinet Region in the Côteaux de Languedoc.

Picpoul at Tablas Creek

We did not import Picpoul with our initial eight varieties. After the original eight were established in the vineyard, we decided that the consistent sun and long growing season at Tablas Creek might allow varietals that in France are lean and high in acidity to show character impossible elsewhere. Picpoul, with its reputation for sharp acidity, was the first of these high-acid whites that we brought into quarantine, and was in fact the first supplemental varietal we brought in of any sort. It was released from quarantine in 1998, and we spent the next two years propagating and grafting it. We planted approximately one acre of Picpoul in 2000, and received our first significant harvest in 2003. It has been such a success that we plan to triple our acreage in the next few years.

In the vineyard, Picpoul is not a difficult varietal to grow. It pushes early, making it somewhat susceptible to frost, but ripens relatively late. In the past two years, Picpoul was the last white varietal to be brought in, just before Mourvèdre (the last red of the season) at the end of October. In the winery, we ferment it in neutral barrels to complement the grape’s brightness with a bit of roundness.

When we first bottled Picpoul, it was necessary to petition the Tax and Trade Bureau to recognize the varietal, a process we had undergone with several other varietals, including Grenache Blanc, Counoise and Tannat. We amassed literature on Picpoul to demonstrate that it was a recognized varietal in other countries, and compiled descriptions of its characteristics to satisfy the TTB’s requirement that it have distinct value as a wine grape in the United States. In February of 2004, our petition was formally approved.

Aromas and Flavors

We have found that, in California, Picpoul maintains its bright acidity, but also develops an appealing tropical lushness. It is quite rich in the mouth, with an exceptionally long finish. When we have enough fruit, we bottle Picpoul Blanc as a single varietal, and the wine shows a rich nose of pear, pineapple and spice. In the mouth, buttery flavors of pineapple and orange are balanced by crisp acids, and the long, rich finish shows flavors of piña colada.

Beginning in 2004, we have included Picpoul Blanc in our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, where it lifts the aromatics of the wine in much the same way Viognier might, and its bright acids and pronounced minerality highlight the richness of the Roussanne and Grenache Blanc.

Whereas in previous vintages Viognier had played the role of lifting the aromatic profile, including Picpoul instead in the Esprit Blanc means that the wine includes only grapes approved for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (Viognier, while a Rhône varietal, is not permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc was included in the Fall 2005 VINsider shipment, and will be released nationwide in early 2006.

Source: http://www.tablascreek.com/picpoul.html

Roussanne | White Wines

June 24th, 2008

Roussane White Grape
Roussanne, with its honeyed richness and excellent longevity, forms the backbone of our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc. In addition, it makes a tremendous single varietal wine, as in our varietal Roussanne that debuted in 2002. The varietal takes its name from “roux”, the French word for “russet” – an apt description of the grapes’ reddish gold skins at harvest.

Roussanne in France

Although no one is precisely sure where Roussanne originated, it seems likely the varietal is native to the Rhône Valley and to the Isere Valley in eastern France. The varietal has not ventured far from its origin; most of the world’s Roussanne is grown throughout the Rhône, where it is traditionally used as a blending grape. In the Southern Rhône, Roussanne is one of four white grape varietals permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and it is often blended with Grenache Blanc, whose richness and crisp acids highlight Roussanne’s pear and honey flavors. In the Northern Rhône, Roussanne is frequently blended with Marsanne in the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint Joseph to provide acidity, minerality and richness. As a single varietal wine, it reaches its pinnacle as the sole component of Château de Beaucastel’s Roussanne Vieille Vignes.

Roussanne is also found the Savoie region of France (where it is known as Bergeron), and in limited quantities in Australia and Italy. In the United States, Roussanne is planted in the Central Coast and Sonoma regions of California, as well as in the Yakima Valley of Washington State.

Roussanne in California

In the 1980s, pioneering American growers attempted to import Roussanne into the United States by taking cuttings from the Rhône Valley. Those cuttings were propagated and planted in vineyards all over California, and many wines from those cuttings garnered critical acclaim. Years later, in 1998, DNA tests identified those vines as Viognier – a discovery which led to significant confusion, relabeling, and several lawsuits. We avoided this confusion by importing all of our vine cuttings directly from Château de Beaucastel; the Roussanne and Viognier propagated in the Tablas Creek Nursery are certified clones, tested by the USDA and declared virus-free. We have have more information on the Roussanne-Viognier Controversy.

Around the same time we brought in the Beaucastel clones, John Alban imported Roussanne to plant in his Central Coast vineyards. Those clones were also true Roussanne, and virtually all of the 177 acres of Roussanne currently planted in California are descendants of the clones brought in by Alban and by Tablas Creek.

Roussanne at Tablas Creek

Roussanne has a reputation as a difficult varietal to grow, and as such is often passed over in favor of the more cooperative Marsanne. In its native France, plantings had almost disappeared until superior clones were developed towards the end of the twentieth century. Roussanne grapes are susceptible to powdery mildew and rot, and the vine is a shy producer even under ideal conditions. Of the four primary white Rhône varietals that we grow at Tablas Creek, Roussanne is generally the latest-ripening.

The vines are particularly responsive to sunlight, and grape bunches on the western side of the vine tend to ripen more quickly than bunches on the eastern side. To combat this tendency, we aggressively thin the leaves to expose more bunches to sunlight and harvest the grapes in multiple passes. Bunches on the western side are picked first, leaving the eastern ones more time to ripen. Sixteen acres of our vineyard are devoted to Roussanne, representing over half of our white Châteauneuf-du-Pape varieties and almost ten percent of the Roussanne planted in California.

Flavors and Aromas

Wines made from Roussanne are rich and complex, with distinct honey, floral and apricot flavors. At Tablas Creek, we ferment and age about half of our Roussanne in one- to five-year-old French oak, which provides a structured richness and enhances the flavors of honeyed peach and apricot fruit. Unlike most white wines, Roussanne ages very well due to its unusual combination of richness and crisp acids; Château de Beaucastel’s Roussanne Vieille Vignes wines can be enjoyed up to 15 years or more after bottling.

Roussanne is gaining popularity as a single varietal, especially among producers on the Central Coast. After a wine-club-only bottling of two barrels in 2001, we have begun producing a single-varietal Roussanne made from grapes that we feel are particularly characteristic of the varietal. The single-varietal bottling provides a nice counterpoint to the terroir-characteristic grapes we use in our Roussanne-based Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.

Source:http://www.tablascreek.com/roussanne.html

Grenache Blanc GrapeGrenache Blanc is a relatively new arrival into the Tablas Creek Vineyard pantheon of grapes. It produces rich, full wines with bright flavors and crisp acidity and is a key element in both our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc and Cotes de Tablas Blanc. As the name suggests, Grenache Blanc is related to the more widely known Grenache Noir. Many grape varietals have both red and white variants; the best known is Pinot, which has Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris variations. Grenache Blanc, like Grenache Noir, is drought-resistant, vigorous, easy to graft and ripens fairly early in the cycle. Since we brought Grenache Blanc into our nursery, we have sold budwood and grafted vines to a number of other Rhône-producing vineyards in California. The California climate of hot days and cool nights seems to be perfect for the varietal and encourages its two prime qualities: richness with crisp acids.

Early History

Grenache Blanc originated in Spain, and still plays a role in the wines of Rioja and Navarre. From Spain, it spread to France, and has thrived in the vineyards of the Rhône valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is the fourth most commonly planted white grape varietal in France, comprising over 37,000 acres in Roussillon alone. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the crisp acidity of Grenache Blanc is used to balance the honeyed richness of Roussanne, and white Château de Beaucastel is roughly 80% Roussanne and 20% Grenache Blanc.

Grenache Blanc at Tablas Creek

We imported cuttings of Grenache Blanc from Beaucastel in 1992, and the vines spent three years in quarantine at the USDA station in Geneva, New York. In 1995, the cuttings were declared virus free and released to Tablas Creek Vineyard. These vines were received into our nursery and the first grafted vines went into the ground in 1996. The first significant harvest of the varietal was 1999. For the next three years (up to and including the 2001 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc), we could only refer to the varietal as Grenache on our label because Grenache Blanc was not yet recognized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Not surprisingly, many people found this nomenclature confusing and we were regularly asked why we added a red varietal into our white blend; in 2002 we petitioned the BATF to recognize Grenache Blanc as a separate varietal.

Grenache Blanc at the BATF

We went through the varietal approval process with Counoise in 2000, so we knew what we had to do. We compiled literature on Grenache Blanc to show that it was a recognized varietal in other countries, and we compiled descriptions of its characteristics to show that it had positive value as a wine grape in the United States. In February 2003, our petition was provisionally approved (pending an open review process that could take 18 months). You can see Grenache Blanc on the front labels of ourEsprit de Beaucastel Blanc and the Côtes de Tablas Blanc, as well our single-varietal Grenache Blanc, which debuted to national release with the 2004 vintage.

Aromas and Flavors

Grenache Blanc is straw-colored and produces wines that are high in alcohol, with crisp acids. The nose has bright green apple and mandarin orange aromas, with clean flavors of more green apples, mineral and a touch of peach. It has a long, lingering finish. Although it can stand confidently on its own, its crispness and long finish make it a tremendous blending component. The crispness of Grenache Blanc shows well at low temperatures, whereas many white Rhône varietals (particularly Roussanne and Marsanne) shut down when served too cold. In our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, the Grenache Blanc allows the wine to show well, even highly chilled (as many restaurants often serve all white wines). As the wine warms up in the glass, the other varietals unfold, and the full richness of the wine is displayed. If you’re interested in Grenache Blanc, we bottled small lots of 100% Grenache Blanc in both the 2002 and 2003 vintages for our Wine Club members. These wines were distributed as parts of the annual spring shipment. We planned a limited national release of our 2004 Grenache Blanc which has been very successful, debuting it in about a dozen states starting in late 2005.

Source: http://www.tablascreek.com/grenachebl.html

Gewürztraminer | White Wines

February 27th, 2008


Brazilian Gewürztraminer | White WinesGewürztraminer (pronounced /ɡəˈvɝtstrəmiːnɚ/, sounds like guh-VOORTS-truh-MEE-ner; pronounced [ɡɛˈvyːɐtstʀamiːnɐ] in German), sometimes referred to as Gewürz, is an aromatic white wine grape variety that performs best in cooler climates. The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes. It is not uncommon to notice some spritz (fine bubbles on the inside of the glass).

Its aromatic flavours make Gewürztraminer one of the few wines that is suitable for drinking with Asian cuisine. It goes well with Munster cheese, and fleshy, fatty (oily) wild game. Smoked salmon is a particularly good match.

Species: Vitis vinifera
Also called: Gewürz, Gentil Rose Aromatique, Traminer Musque (more)
Origin: Along the Rhine in Alsace between the Vosges and the Blackforest
Notable regions: Alsace, Germany, NE Italy
Notable wines: From Alsace, especially the Vendange Tardives

History

The name literally means “Spice Traminer”, or “Perfumed Traminer”.

Gewürztraminer Grapes | White Wines
The history of the Traminer family is complicated, and not helped by its rather unstable genome. The story starts with the ancient Traminer variety, a green-skinned grape that takes its name from the South Tyrolean village of Tramin. The famous ampelographer Pierre Galet thought that Traminer was identical to the green-skinned Savagnin Blanc that makes vin jaune in the Jura. More recently it has been suggested that Savagnin Blanc acquired slight differences in its leaf shape and geraniol content as it travelled to the other end of the Alps.

Frankisch in Austria, Gringet in Savoie, Heida in Switzerland, Formentin in Hungary and Grumin from Bohemia are all very similar to Savagnin Blanc and probably represent clones of the Traminer family, if not Traminer itself. The Viognier of the Rhone Valley may be a more distant relative of Savagnin Blanc.

At some point, either Traminer or Savagnin Blanc mutated into a form with pink-skinned berries, called Red Traminer or Savagnin Rose. Galet believed that a musqué (’muscat’) mutation in the Red Traminer/Savagnin Rose then led to the extra-aromatic Gewürztraminer, although in Germany these names are all regarded as synonymous.

With these convoluted genetics happening in the area that has been the front line for a millennium of wars in Europe, it’s maybe not surprising that vines have been misnamed. Given that the wine made from ‘Gewürztraminer’ in Germany can be much less aromatic than that in Alsace, some of the German vines may well be misidentified Savagnin Rose. The Baden vineyard of Durbach claims its own type of Red Traminer called Durbacher Clevner (not to be confused with “Klevner”, an Austrian synonym for Pinot Blanc). The story goes that in 1780 Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden brought vines from Chiavenna in Italy, halfway between Tramin and the Jura, which was known to the Germans as Cleven.

The Klevener de Heiligenstein or Heiligensteiner Klevener found around Heiligenstein in Alsace may represent an outpost of the Durbach vines. They are often described as a less aromatic form of Gewürztraminer, which sounds just like the Red Traminer!

Traminer is recorded in Tramin from ca. 1000 until the 16th century. It was spread down the Rhine to Alsace, by way of the Palatinate where Gewürz (spice) was added to its name - presumably this was when one of the mutations happened. The longer name was first used in Alsace in 1870 - without the umlaut. It’s not clear what this name change represents, as it seems too great a coincidence that the musqué mutation happened just after the arrival of the great phylloxera epidemic. More likely an existing mutant was selected for grafting onto phylloxera-resistant rootstocks when the vineyards were replanted. In 1973 the name Traminer was discontinued in Alsace except for in the Heiligenstein area.

Crosses

The Germans have tried hard to breed the flavours of Gewürztraminer into vines that are easier to grow. In 1932 Georg Scheu crossed Gewürztraminer with Müller-Thurgau to produce Würzer, a little of which is grown in Rheinhessen and in England. Similar crosses at Alzey and Würzburg respectively have produced Septimer and the reasonably successful Perle. The early-ripening Siegerrebe is the result of a cross with Madeleine Angevine at Alzey and is notable for producing the highest ever must weight recorded in Germany, 326 °Oechsle. A cross between Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe produced Ortega

Cserszegi Fűszeres is the result of a Hungarian cross with Irsai Oliver.

In 1938 Harold Olmo crossed Sémillon and Gewürztraminer at U.C. Davis to make Flora, which is grown a little in California and New Zealand - in the latter it was mistaken for a late-ripening clone of Pinot Gris. Brown Bros blend it with Orange Muscat in Australia.

In 1965 Gewürztraminer was crossed with Joannes Seyve 23.416 at the University of Illinois to produce a hybrid variety called Traminette. Traminette is more cold-tolerant than the original, while maintaining most of the desirable taste and aroma characteristics.

Regions

In Europe the grape is grown in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moravia in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the New World, the grape is perhaps most successful in New Zealand and in the far south of Chile.

Australia

Australian Gewürztraminer is more notable for its occasional use of old names like Traminer Musqué and Gentil Rose Aromatique than the quality of the wines. Its naturally high sugar is exacerbated by the sunny climate, so that it is more suited for sweetening other wines.

Canada

Canadian regions where it is grown include the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, the Niagara Peninsula, and the north shore of Lake Erie and Prince Edward County wine regions of Ontario.

France

Gewürztraminer reaches its finest expression in Alsace, where it is the second most planted grape variety and the one most characteristic of the region. It grows better in the south of the region. Styles range from the very dry Trimbach house style to the very sweet. The variety’s high natural sugar means that it is popular for making dessert wine, both vendange tardive and the noble rot-affected sélection de grains nobles.

As mentioned above, around Heiligenstein there’s a grape known as Klevener de Heiligenstein, which is probably Red Traminer (Savagnin Rose) rather than a true Gewürz; the Heiligenstein wines are certainly more restrained than other Alsace Gewürztraminers.

Germany

Germany has about 10 square kilometres of the variety, but it is very different to that of their neighbours across the Rhine, as suggested above a lot of their “Gewürztraminer” is probably Red Traminer. The Germans go for a relatively dry style, that tries to subdue the natural flamboyance of the grape.

Italy

The Traminer is native to the cool Alpine slopes of the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol in northeastern Italy. Whether the Gewürz- mutant originated there or not is an open question, but it is certainly grown there today. Confusingly both pink and green grapes may be called simply Traminer. This wine is aged in Austrian oak rather than the Slovenian oak used for most Italian wine.
Gewürztraminer | White Wines
USA

In the United States, it is concentrated in Monterey, Mendocino and Sonoma in California, the Columbia Valley of Washington and Oregon. It is also grown in Michigan, Rhode Island, Caddo County, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

Traminette wines are produced in the Finger Lakes region.

Israel

Although not native to the Israeli climate, growing Gewürztraminer grapes became somewhat of a trend in the late 90’s and the beginning of 2000’s. It is grown in different growing areas all over Israel. Most notable examples come from the Golan Heights and the Gallilee. All kinds of wines, from dry aromatic ones to very concentrated sweet ones are produced.

Vine and viticulture

Gewürztraminer is particularly fussy about soil and climate. The vine is vigorous, even unruly, but it hates chalky soils and is very susceptible to disease. It buds early, so is very susceptible to frost, needs dry and warm summers, and ripens erratically and late. Its natural sweetness means that in hot climates it becomes blowsy, with not enough acidity to balance the huge amounts of sugar. On the other hand, picking early to retain the acidity, means that the varietal aromas don’t develop, and these aromas may be further diluted by overcropping in an attempt to overcome the low yields.

Synonyms

As explained above, genetic instability means that the Traminers should be regarded as a family of related clones rather than distinct varieties. Thus DNA analysis will probably reveal that the following names are not synonymous. It gets even worse when it comes to Gewürztraminer, as Geilweilerhof being Germans see no difference between it and Red Traminer - and some of the names look like they belong to the original green-skinned Traminer/Savagnin Blanc. Still, with those caveats, here they are:

Auvernas Rouge, Blanc Brun, Blanc Court, Bon Blanc, Christkindeltraube, Christkindlestraube, Clevener, Clevner, Crevena Ruziva, Crovena Ruzica, Diseci Traminer, Dreimaenner, Dreimannen, Dreipfennigholz, Drumin, Drumin Ljbora, Duret Rouge, Edeltraube, Fermentin Rouge, Fleischroth, Fleischweiner, Formentin Rouge, Fourmenteau Rouge, Frencher, Fromente, Fromenteau, Fűszeres, Fűszeres Tramini, Gentil Rose Aromatique, Gentil-duret Rouge, Gentile Blanc, Gewuerztraminer, Gringet, Gris Rouge, Haiden, Kirmizi Traminer, Klaebinger, Klaevner, Kleinbraun, Kleinwiener, Livora, Livora Cervena, Mala Dinka, Marzimmer, Mirisavi Traminac, Nature, Nature Rose, Noble Rose, Nuernberger Rot, Pinat Cervena, Piros Tramini, Plant Paien, Princ Cerveny, Princt Cervena, Princt Cerveny, Ranfoliza, Rosentraminer, Rotclevner, Rotedel, Roter Nuerberger, Roter Nuernberger, Roter Traminer, Rotfranken, Rothklauser, Rothweiner, Rothwiener, Rotklaevler, Rotklaevner, Rotklevner, Rousselet, Runziva, Rusa, Ruska, Ryvola, Salvagnin, Sauvagnin, Savagnin, Savagnin Jaune, Savagnin Rosa Aromatique, Savagnin Rose, Savagnin Rose Aromatique, Savagnin Rose Musque, St. Klauser, Termeno Aromatico, Tramin Cerveny, Tramin Korenny, Traminac Crveni, Traminac Diseci, Traminac mirisavi (Croatian), Traminac Mirisavi Crveni, Traminac Sivi, Traminec, Traminer, Traminer Aromatico, Traminer Epice, Traminer Musque, Traminer Parfume, Traminer Rosa, Traminer Rose Aromatique, Traminer Rot, Traminer Rozovyi, Tramini Piros, Trammener,Fűszeres tramini (Hungarian).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gew%C3%BCrztraminer


If you are quick you may get onto the band waggon of this wonderful Rhone variety. There are lots of bargain wines still around.

First a little history. The Viognier white grape variety was rescued from near extinction just a few decades ago and is now one of the hottest varietals going around. If you are becoming a little jaded by Chardonnay and can’t quite cop the aggressive characters in Sauvignon blanc then this variety may be the drink for you. Legend has it that the variety was introduced, along with Syrah, to the Rhone Valley during the Roman occupation.

After two millennia of barbarian invasions, dark ages, wars and the ravages of time just a few hectares of Viognier were left by the 1960s. It occupied a small corner of the Rhone around Condrieu where it made cult wines known only to a small group of enthusiasts. But the word got out and thanks to modern viticultural techniques Viognier is now widely planted Languedoc and Ardeche in France as well as in Italy, California and Australia.

Viognier’s future in the Rhone is now assured. The wines made from the variety are at their best rich and sensual, in a word voluptuous. Many plantings are still really only in their experimental phase. It may take a couple of decades to see the best. In the meantime there may be some disappointments and variation from year to year. There just isn’t enough knowledge and experience around yet for there to be consistent results from vineyard practices and winemaking technique.

The ripening of the process of the grapes is regarded as idiosyncratic in this variety. The fruit flavours seem to arrive in a rush at the end of ripening, so patience and a strong nerve is required to avoid picking too early. It is therefore quite likely that there will be strong variation from vintage to vintage.

Viognier is increasingly popular as the white partner in copigmentation with Shiraz. Only a small proportion of the white grapes is used. One Shiraz winemaker from Heathcote district in Central Victoria reckons that just two percent of Viognier is the optimum amount for his Shiraz. Other makers are using between five and fifteen percent.

The flavour of varietal white wines made from Viognier are often described using comparisons with the aromas of flowers, peaches and stone fruits and spices.

Viognier wine is best enjoyed with food, and these dry white wines are robust enough to be paired with quite aromatic or mildly spiced dishes. There are some other food pairing ideas in the Albarino to Zinfandel Food Pairing recipe collection.

Viognier wines will probably age well, but they are very good young so why wait?

Australian wineries using Viognier include:

Alan and Veitch Adelaide Hills
Albert River Queensland Coastal
Aldinga Bay McLaren Vale
Alkoomi Frankland River
Allusion Wines Southern Fleurieu
Amulet Vineyard
Beechworth
Anderson Winery Rutherglen
Andrew Peace Wines Swan Hill
Angas Vineyards Langhorne Creek
Angullong Wines Orange
Arakoon McLaren Vale
Arundel Sunbury
Badgers Brook Yarra Valley Yarra Valley
Bago Vineyards Hastings River
Ballandeen Estate Granite Belt
Bartagunyah Estate Southern Flinders Region
Barton Estate Canberra
Barwick Wines Margaret River
Battely Wines Beechworth
Battunga Vineyards Adelaide Hills
Beelgara Estate Riverina
Belgravia Vineyards Orange
Bellarine Estate Geelong
Berton Vineyards Riverina
Bimbadgen Estate Hunter Valley
Biscay Wines Barossa Valley
Blamires Butterfly Crossing Bendigo
Blue Poles Vineyard Margaret River
Boireann Granite Belt
Boyntons Feathertop Alpine Valleys
Brindabella Hills Canberra
Brokenwood Wines Hunter Valley
Brown Brothers King Valley
By Farr Geelong
Calais Estate
Hunter Valley
Campbells Wines Rutherglen
Cape Mentelle Margaret River
Capel Vale Geographe
Carilley Estate Swan Valley
Carlaminda Estate Geographe
Casella Riverina
Castagna Vineyard Beechworth
Ceres Bridge Estate Geelong
Chain of Ponds Adelaide Hills
Chalice Bridge Estate Margaret River
Charlies Estate Wines Swan Valley
Chateau Mildura Murray Darling
Ciavarella King Valley
Circo V King Valley
Claymore Wines Clare Valley
Clonakilla Canberra
Cobaw Ridge Macedon Ranges
Cow Hill Beechworth
Craneford Barossa Valley
Creed of Barossa Barossa Valley
Currans Family Wines Murray Darling
Cypress Post Granite Belt
D’Arenberg McLaren Vale
Darling Park Mornington Peninsula
David Hook Wines Hunter Valley
De Beaurepaire Wines Mudgee
de Mestre Wines Mudgee
Deakin Estate Murray Darling
Diamond Valley Vineyards Yarra Valley
Djinta Djinta Gippsland
DogRidge McLaren Vale
Domain Day Barossa Valley
Dos Rios Swan Hill
Dyson Wines McLaren Vale
Eden Hall Eden Valley
Elgee Park Mornington Peninsula
Evans Family Wines Hunter Valley
Farrell Estate Murray Darling
First Creek Hunter Valley
Flying Duck Estate King Valley
Fonty’s Pool Vineyards Pemberton
Fox Gordon Barossa Valley
Francois Jacquard Perth Hills
Frankland Estate Frankland River
Freeman Vineyards Hilltops
Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale
Ghost Riders Vineyard Hunter Valley
Giant Steps Yarra Valley
Grant Burge Barossa Valley
Gregory’s Wines The Peninsulas
Grove Estate Wines Hilltops
Gundowringla Wines Alpine Valleys
Haan Barossa Valley
Hamiltons Bluff Cowra
Happs Margaret River
Harris River Estate Geographe
Haselgrove McLaren Vale
Hastwell and Lightfoot McLaren Vale
Haywards of Locksley Strathbogie Ranges
Heafod Glen Winery Swan Valley
Heartland Vineyard Hunter Valley
Heartland Wines Limestone Coast
Heathcote Winery Heathcote
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley
Heidenriech Estate Barossa Valley
Helen’s Hill Estate Yarra Valley
Henschke Eden Valley
Hently Farm Wines Barossa Valley
Higlander wines Orange
Hotham Ridge Winery Central Western Australian Zone
House of Certain Views Hunter Valley
Hugh Hamilton McLaren Vale
Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley
Izway Wines Barossa Valley
Jarrah Ridge Winery Central Western Australian Zone
Jeir Creek Canberra
Jimbour Wines Queensland Zone
Kalleske Wines Barossa Valley
Kamberra Canberra
Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale
Kay Bros Amery McLaren Vale
Keith Tulloch Wine Hunter Valley
Kilikanoon Clare Valley
King River Estate King Valley
Kingston Estate Riverland
Kirwans Bridge Wines Nagambie Lakes
Koltz McLaren Vale
Kouark Gippsland
Ladbroke Grove Coonawarra
Lady Bay Winery Southern Fleurieu
LadyBay Vineyard Southern Fleurieu
Langanook Wines Bendigo
Langmeil Barossa Valley
Lanzthomson Wines Barossa Valley
Lark Hill Winery Canberra
Lashmar Kangaroo Island
Lerida Estate Canberra
Lethbridge Wines Geelong
Lillian Pemberton
Linda Domas Wines McLaren Vale
Lindenton Wines Heathcote
Little’s Winery Hunter Valley
Little River Wines Swan Valley
Little Wine Company Hunter Valley
Logan Wines Mudgee
Longview Vineyard Adelaide Hills
Louee Wines Mudgee
M. Chapoutier Australia Mount Benson
Margan Family Hunter Valley
Mary Byrnes Wines Granite Belt
mas serrat Yarra Valley
Mason Wines Granite Belt
Maxwell Wines McLaren Vale
McHenry Hohnen Margaret River
McIvor Creek Heathcote
McKellar Ridge Canberra
McPherson Wines Nagambie Lakes
Meera Park Hunter Valley
Merum Pemberton
Metier Wines Yarra Valley
Millbrook Winery Perth Hills
Mitchelton Nagambie Lakes
Mount Appallan Vineyards South Burnett
Mount Buffalo Vineyard Alpine Valleys
Mount Burrumboot Estate Heathcote
Mount Camel Ridge Estate Heathcote
Mount Cole Wineworks Grampians
Mount Surmon Clare Valley
Mount Trio Vineyard Porongurup
Mr Riggs Wine Company McLaren Vale
Mulyan Cowra
Munari Heathcote
Mundoonen Canberra
Murray Darling Collection Murray Darling
Murray Street Vineyard Barossa Valley
Myrtle Vale Vineyard Upper Goulburn
Nalbra Estate Geelong
Neqtar Wines Murray Darling
Noorilim Estate Goulburn Valley
Normanby Wines Queensland Zone
Nursery Ridge Murray Darling
Oakover Estate Swan Valley
Oatley Wines Mudgee
Orange Mountain Orange
Organic Vignerons Australia Riverland
Paracombe Wines Adelaide Hills
Parri Estate Southern Fleurieu
Patterson Lakes Estate Port Phillip Zone
Peacetree Estate Margaret River
Peerick Vineyard Pyrenees
Pelican’s Landing Maritime Wines Southern Fleurieu
Penny’s Hill McLaren Vale
Pennyfield Wines Riverland
Pepper Tree Wines Hunter Valley
Pepperilly Estate Wines Geographe
Petaluma Adelaide Hills
Petersons Glenesk Estate Mudgee
Pettavel Geelong
Philip Shaw Orange
Phoenix Estate Clare Valley
Pikes Clare Valley
Pinnacle Wines Orange
Plan B Margaret River
Plunkett Wines Strathbogie Ranges
Poachers Ridge Vineyards Mount Barker
Pondalowie Bendigo
Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale
Pothana Hunter Valley
Prince of Orange Orange
Printhie Wines Orange
Purple Hen Wines Gippsland
Pyren Vineyard Pyrenees
Ralph Fowler Wines Mount Benson
Ravensworth Wines Canberra
Redbank Victoria King Valley
Rees Miller Estate Upper Goulburn
Ridgemill Estate Granite Belt
Ridgeview Wines Hunter Valley
Riverbank Estate Swan Valley
Robert Johnson Vineyards Eden Valley
Roberts Estate Murray Darling
Rocky Passes Wines Upper Goulburn
Romavilla Roma
Roundstone Winery Yarra Valley
Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen
Salisbury Winery Murray Darling
Sanguine Estate Heathcote
Scion Vineyard Rutherglen
Seven Ochres Vineyard Margaret River
Sevenhill Wines Clare Valley
Shadowfax Vineyard and Winery Geelong
Shelmerdine Heathcote
Sieber Road Wines Barossa Valley
Sirromet Queensland Coastal
Smidge Wines Langhorne Creek
Snobs Creek Wines Upper Goulburn
Solstice Mount Torrens Vineyards Adelaide Hills
Southern Highland Wines Southern Highlands
Spence’s Vineyard Geelong
Spinifex Barossa Valley
Spoehr Creek Wines Adelaide Hills
SpringLane Yarra Valley
St Leonards Rutherglen
Stella Bella Margaret River
Sticks Yarra Valley
Stone Ridge Granite Belt
Stonehaven Padthaway
Stuart Wines Heathcote
Sugarloaf Ridge Southern Tasmania
Sutton Grange Winery Bendigo
Swings & Roundabouts Margaret River
Symphonia King Valley
Symphony Hill Wines Granite Belt
Syrahmi Heathcote
T’Gallant Mornington Peninsula
Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes
Tall Poppy Murray Darling
Tallarook Wines Upper Goulburn
Tallis Wine Company Goulburn Valley
Taltarni Pyrenees
Tamar Ridge Northern Tasmania
Tandou Riverland
Tanglewood Vines Blackwood Valley
Tapestry McLaren Vale
Tatachilla McLaren Vale
Tawonga Vineyard Alpine Valleys
Temple Bruer Langhorne Creek
Terra Felix Upper Goulburn
The Islander Estate Vineyards Kangaroo Island
The Lane Adelaide Hills
The Ritual Peel
The Standish Wine Company Barossa Valley
Three Moon Creek Queensland Zone
Torbreck Vintners Barossa Valley
Trentham Estate Murray Darling
Turners Crossing Vineyard Bendigo
Veritas Barossa Valley
Vinea Marson Heathcote
Vintara Rutherglen
Violet Cane Vineyard Granite Belt
Wallington Wines Cowra
Wandoo Farm Central Western Australian Zone
Wanted Man Heathcote
Waratah Vineyard Queensland Zone
Watershed Wines Margaret River
Wedgetail Ridge Estate Darling Downs
West Cape Howe Wines Denmark
Westend Estate Riverina
Western Range Wines Perth Hills
Westgate Vineyard Grampians
Whale Coast Wines Southern Fleurieu
Whistling Eagle Wines Heathcote
Whitsend Estate Yarra Valley
Wills Domain Vineyard Margaret River
Willunga 100 Wines McLaren Vale
Winbirra Vineyard Mornington Peninsula
Winewood Granite Belt
Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale
Wombats Run King Valley
Wovenfield Geographe
Yalumba Wine Company Barossa Valley
Yarra Yarra Yarra Valley
Yarra Yering Yarra Valley
Yarraloch Yarra Valley
Yengari Wine Company Beechworth
Yering Station Yarra Valley
Zilzie Wines Murray Darling
Zonte’s Footstep Langhorne Creek

Source: http://www.vinodiversity.com/viognier.html

by Steve Pitcher

Wine merchants are increasingly tantalizing their customers with domestic wines sporting unfamiliar names. Not content with the “chocolate” and “vanilla” of wine production — Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay — as well as other classic varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, some wineries are turning to Old World varietals like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo from Italy and Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault from the Rhone Valley for red wines, and other Rhone varietals such as Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne for white wines.

If you haven’t yet come across many wines with these names, it’s due to the fact that production is still comparatively tiny. On the other hand, you may have been exposed to one or more of them without knowing it when enjoying a bottle labeled with a fanciful proprietary name, such as Bonny Doon’s Clos de Gilroy (made from Grenache), Old Telegram (Mourvedre), Le Cigare Volant (Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah) and Le Sophiste (Rousanne and Marsanne), or Qupe’s Bien Nacido Cuvee (half Chardonnay, half Viognier) or one of Jim Clendenen’s “Il Podere dell’Olivos” line of wines, such as Arioso Bianco (one third each Pinot Bianco, Moscato di Canelli and Ribolla Gialla).

Of the white Rhone varietals, Viognier (pronounced “VEE-ohn-yay”) is the most “widely” planted, with about 300 acres in California. While Viognier grows particularly well in warmer micro-climates, it can be found in all the wine-growing regions of California, from Mendocino County in the north to Temecula in the South Coast, including some very promising vineyards in the Sierra foothills. While only a small number of wineries dabbled in this most exotic of all white table wines in the early ’90s, today Viognier is made by more than 20 wineries in California, plus a couple in Colorado and one in Virginia. Growers have also planted modest amounts of Viognier in thirteen other states, including Oregon, Arizona, New York, North Carolina and Texas, where commercial bottlings are contemplated in the near future.
Viognier’s Aromas and Flavors
For those who haven’t experienced Viognier, the first glass is quite a revelation. First and foremost there is the wine’s heady perfume — a melange consisting of all or some of the following: honeysuckle, citrus blossoms, oriental lychee nuts, very ripe white melon, freshly picked peaches and apricots, and ripe pears just after they’ve been peeled — that immediately gets your attention. According to Craig Williams, winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Viognier contains floral compounds (called terpens) that are also found in Muscat and Riesling. So, think of the most wonderfully aromatic Muscat or Riesling you’ve ever encountered, then concentrate and double that perfume and you have Viognier.

Your nose tells you the wine will be sweet — like a Muscat — but your palate is surprised to encounter a dry nectar offering flavors that resemble a mixture of ripe pears, lemon-lime citrus, almonds, spice, peaches and apricots, sometimes with a honied nuance. Lush and viscous on the palate with more body than most Chardonnays, the wine’s aftertaste is not at all cloying, but fresh and vibrant, impelling you to take another sip.

Food Matches

With all the exotic descriptions of Viognier’s perfume and flavors, it’s reasonable to ask whether the wine works well with food. It’s just these extroverted elements that make Viognier an excellent complement to Mediterranean cuisine, particularly shellfish, seafood and poultry dishes.

For example, at a Square One luncheon a while back focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and Rhone-style wines, chef-owner Joyce Goldstein paired Viognier with “Caldo de perro,” a Catalan soup with rockfish, monkfish, scallops, orange juice, onions, grilled bread and almond orange aioli. It was a scrumptious combination that needed only a bit more spicy hotness to make it perfect, as Goldstein herself remarked.

On a simpler scale, Viognier is a perfect match for crabcakes and spicy stir-fry.

Besides being exotic and delicious, Viognier is a wine that doesn’t require much aging to develop complexity and full aromatics. Within two years from the vintage date, the wine is generally as good as it’s going to get. This is great news for folks who want to take an excitingly different wine home from the store for consumption that night with dinner.

Winemaking Techniques

At this point in the development of New World Viognier winemaking, wineries are still trying to figure out the most appropriate method of production to obtain the best results. This was quite apparent in a recent Vintners Club blind tasting of 12 Viogniers from all over California, plus one from Virginia. The quality of the wines was comparatively uneven, with some efforts showing too much oak, while others exhibited grassy, vegetal aromas more commonly found in Sauvignon Blanc. The best wines were, however, on a par with Viogniers from France, where the wine is often labeled “Condrieu,” the name of the tiny region where most of French Viognier grapes are grown.

The message from this tasting is that Viognier shouldn’t be made like Chardonnay — it can’t survive barrel fermentation and aging in 100 percent new oak, but does need some older, neutral oak to bring out its perfume early and to round out the texture. Cool stainless steel fermentation works well, but tends to inhibit the aromas.

If there is a downside to California-grown Viognier, in addition to uneven quality, it is price. Eight of the 12 wines in the Vintners Club tasting were priced at more than $20, reflecting the tiny yield from Viognier vineyards in 1994 and 1995, as well as the inexorable law of supply and demand. There were, however, a couple of bargain-priced wines in the upper rankings, which demonstrate that good Viognier doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive.

Tasting Notes

FIRST PLACE

1995 Calera Viognier, Mount Harlan (San Benito County) ($30)
Quintessential Viognier, this wine would be right at home in the Rhone Valley of France. Wonderfully aromatic, complex nose of ripe peaches and apricots, set off with mild toast and roasted grain scents. Smooth and unctuous in the mouth, offering lots of ripe apricot-peach fruit and fine acidity. The good mouthfeel gets better sip after sip.

SECOND PLACE

1995 Cline Cellars Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Contra Costa County ($18)
Distinctive, attractive aromas of quince, minerals, smoke, tropical fruit, ultra-ripe peaches, plus a fair amount of oak, which becomes nicely integrated over time. On the palate, the wine is pleasantly juicy and rich with good acidity, tasting of delicious apricot, peach and quince fruit; the flavors have excellent depth and concentration. Barrel fermentation and five months aging on the lees (sur lie) contributed a silky smooth mouthfeel and fine structure. Distinquishable from the Calera, but equally Rhone like. Excellent value.

THIRD PLACE

1995 Alban Vineyards Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Edna Valley ($28)
Fresh, appealing scents of ripe apricots, white peaches, orange rind and lemon blossoms, which are replicated on the palate, accompanied by a slight note of honey and a hint of garden herbs. A delicious, moderately complex wine with good depth and concentration of flavors.

FOURTH PLACE

1995 R.H. Phillips Vineyard Viognier, EXP Estate, Dunnigan Hills ($12)
Blended with five percent Chardonnay, the nose of this wine offers fresh, fragrant aromas of ripe peaches, apricots, lemon zest, bananas and lemon blossoms. Round and fleshy on the palate in the manner of good Viognier, the wine’s flavors focus on ripe, peachy fruit accented by tangerine notes. Nicely varietal and a very good value.

FIFTH PLACE

1994 Kendall-Jackson Viognier, Grand Reserve, California ($25)
Smoky scents define the nose, which also shows shy peach fruit, floral notes and a bit of honey. As the wine aired, the smokiness dissipated somewhat. Not particularly varietal, the flavors are more grassy than fruity; barely adequate acidity. K-J has done better with this varietal in the past.

SIXTH PLACE

1995 Horton Vineyards Viognier, Orange County, Virginia ($20)
Deep, slightly candied scents of peaches, honey, grapefruit and wildflowers, which start off subtly and get bigger over time. Balanced and moderately unctuous in the mouth, the wine offers tasty peach fruit framed by good acidity. A nice wine, but not as exciting as those that ranked higher.

SEVENTH PLACE

1995 Signorello Vineyards Viognier, Napa Valley (Estate) ($30)
The darkest wine in the flight, the Signorello Viognier was unfiltered and underwent 100 percent malolactic fermentation, which resulted in a smooth, rich, silky mouthfeel. Quite fragrant, offering floral scents mingled with honey-tinged pears and lemon citrus. The deep, powerful flavors replicate the nose and would stand up nicely to rich, spicy cuisine.

EIGHTH PLACE

1995 Callaway Vineyard Viognier, Temecula ($15)
The nose brought the wine down for many tasters, as it more resembles a very grassy Sauvignon Blanc than Viognier, with aroma elements of bacon rind, aggressive asparagus and pineapple. On the palate, the sweet, peach-like fruit seems one dimensional.

NINTH PLACE

1995 Ojai Vineyard Viognier, Roll Ranch Vineyard (Ojai Valley), California ($20)
Intriguing nose of hazelnuts, roasted grain, honeysuckle, banana, peaches and a host of tropical fruits. The nicely concentrated flavors replicate the nose; adequate acidity and a hint of sweetness. Still quite young; needs more time to develop.

TENTH PLACE

1994 Joseph Phelps Viognier, Vin du Mistral, Napa Valley ($27)
This producer’s Viognier has done better in prior tastings. Some tasters noted an “off” character in the nose — probably from a bad bottle; others found peach and honeysuckle scents. Flavors match the nose.

ELEVENTH PLACE

1995 Andrew Murray Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Santa Barbara County ($25)
This brand new producer is devoted entirely to Rhone varietals, grown in the highest-elevation vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Still very young, this Viognier now displays muted scents of honeysuckle, orange peel and tropical fruit. On the palate, there is a creamy-vanilla note that leads to a pleasant viscosity and a slightly toasty, vanilla-tinged finish. Only 600 bottles of this unfined and unfiltered wine were produced.

TWELFTH PLACE

The last-place wine came from a corked bottle, and was thus not representative of the true character of the wine. It would serve no purpose to identify the producer in this circumstance.

Steve Pitcher is a freelance wine writer based in San Francisco. He is vice president of the Vintners Club and president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the German Wine Society.

Source: http://www.sallys-place.com/beverages/wine/vintnerschoice/viognier.htm

Viognier | White Wines

February 26th, 2008


Viognier Glass | White WinesViognier is a white wine grape. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhone valley.

History

The origin of Viognier is not completely known with several theories abounding. Most experts agree that Viognier is an ancient grape that may have originated in Dalmatia and was brought to Rhône by the Romans. One legend states that the Roman emperor Probus brought the vine himself to the region in AD 281. Another legend has the grape packaged with Syrah on a cargo ship navigating the Rhone River en route to Beaujolais when it was captured by a local group of outlaws known as culs de piaux near the site of present day Condrieu.

The origins of the name Viognier is similarly obscured with the most common namesake being the French city of Vienne which was a major Roman outpost. Another legend has it drawing its name from the Roman pronunciation of the via Gehennae meaning the “road to Hell” as a possible allusion to the grapes difficulties in growing.

Viognier was once a fairly common grape, though it is now a rare white grape grown almost exclusively in the northern Rhône regions of France. Around the 1960s, the grape was almost extinct when there were only eight acres in Northern Rhône. The popularity of the wine, as well as its price, has risen and thus the number of plantings have increased. Rhône now has over 740 acres (3.0 km²) planted.

In 2004, DNA profiling conducted at University of California, Davis showed the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin of Nebbiolo.

Viticulture

Viognier can be a difficult grape to grow because it is prone to powdery mildew. It also has low and unpredictable yields and needs to be picked only when fully ripe. When the grape is picked too early, it fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes. When picked too late the grape produces wine that is oily and lacking perfume. Winemakers in the Condrieu often pick the grapes with a level of sugar that eventually will produce wine with alcohol in the 13% range. When fully ripen the grapes have a deep yellow color and produce wine high in alcohol with a strong perfume. The grape prefers warmer environments and a long growing season, but can grow in cooler areas as well.

In France, the Mistral atmospheric phenomenon has a distinct effect on the Viognier vineyards in the Northern Rhone. The wind acts as a tempering agent to the Mediterranean climate of the regions, cooling the vines down after the severe heat of the summer time season.

Wine expert Remington Norman has identified two distinct strains of Viognier—an “Old World” strain, most common in Condrieu, and a “New World” strain, which is found is the Languedoc and other areas. While being the same grape, the two different strains seem to produce distinctly different wines.

The age of the vine also has an effect on the quality of the wine produced with Viognier vines starting to hit their peak after 15-20 years. In the Rhone, there are vines of at least 70 years of age.

Regional production

Viognier has been planted much more extensively around the world since the early 1990s. Both California and Australia now have significant amounts of land devoted to the Viognier grape. There are also notable increases in planting in other states of the United States and in other countries.
Viognier | White Wines
The decline of Viognier in France from its historic peak has much to do with the disastrous introduction of phylloxera insects from North America into Europe in the mid- and late-1800s, followed by the abandonment of the vineyards due to the chaos of World War I. By 1965, only about 30 acres of Viognier vines remained in France, and the variety was nearly extinct. Even as late as the mid-1980s, Viognier in France was endangered. Paralleling the growth of Viognier in the rest of the world, plantings in France have grown dramatically since then. The grape has been enjoying some success in Central Italy and in the Piedmont region as well as South Africa, New Zealand and Japan.

France

In France, Viognier is the single permitted grape variety in the appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet, which are located on the west bank of the Rhône River, about 40 km south of Lyon. The majority of French Viogniers are sold as Vin de Pays in the Languedoc. In the Rhone wine region, the grape is often blended with Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache blanc, and Rolle. In the Northern Rhone the grape is sometimes blended with Chardonnay. Vignerons in France often look to plant Viognier in areas rich in granite soil that have a heat retaining quality that the grape seems to thrive in. Beaujolais winemaker Georges Duboeuf help expand the reach of the grape with plantings in the Ardèche region. In the Côte-Rôtie AOC up to 20% of red wine blends can include Viognier though most growers add no more than 5%. Since Viognier ripens earlier then Syrah, the grape is normally harvested separately and added to the Syrah during fermentation. One of the benefits of adding Viognier is the process of co-pigmentation that is produced which stabilizes the coloring of the red wine.

North America

Since the late 1980s, plantings of Viognier in the United States and Canada have increased dramatically. California’s Central Coast is the leading producer with over 2,000 acres (8 km²) of the grape planted. Californian Viogniers are noticeably higher in alcohol compared to other wines made from the grape. The Rhone Rangers of the mid 1980s help spark the increased interest in Viognier in California. The grape can also be found in Washington State, Colorado, New York and Virginia as well as British Columbia and the Niagara region of Ontario.

South America

Both Argentina and Chile have significant plantings of the grape with some producers in Brazil and Uruguay also experimenting with the varietal.

Australia

In Australia, Yalumba is the country’s largest producer of the grape making both a white wine varietal and making extensive use of the grape in its Syrah blends. Yalumba grows the grape in the loam and clay soil of the Eden Valley. Other areas with Viognier plantings include Murray River, McLaren Vale, Geelong, Nagambie Lakes, Canberra, Mornington Peninsula, Barossa Valley,Adelaide Hills and Tenterfield.

Wine

Viognier wines are well-known for their floral aromas, due to terpenes, which are also found in Muscat and Riesling wines. There are also many other powerful flower and fruit aromas which can be perceived in these wines depending on where they were grown, the weather conditions and how old the vines were. Although some of these wines, especially those from old vines and the late-harvest wines, are suitable for aging, most are intended to be consumed young. Viogniers more than three years old tend to lose many of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Aging these wines will often yield a very crisp drinking wine which is almost completely flat in the nose. The color and the aroma of the wine suggest a sweet wine but Viognier wines are predominantly dry, although sweet late-harvest dessert wines have been made. It is a grape with low acidity; it is sometimes used to soften wines made predominantly with the red Syrah grape. In addition to its softening qualities the grape also adds a stabilizing agent and enhanced perfume to the red wine.

In winemaking, the grapes are often harvest early in the morning to produce the clearest juice possible. Some winemakers will allow contact with the skins. The soft skin of Viognier is high in phenols compounds which can leave an oily component to the wine if left in contact with the skins for too long. Sometimes the wine is put through malolactic fermentation to give the wine more weight and to decrease acidity. In New World Viognier, the lees maybe stirred in a process called batonnage in order to increase the acid levels of the wine. The wine is then left on the lees till bottling in a matter similar to sparkling wine production.

In the creation of the dessert style Viognier, the grapes are often picked in late October or early November. In the Rhone region, the grapes normally are not affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea though botrytized Viognier is not unheard of. A common harvest technique used in the Condrieu is known as à l’assiette where a plate is held underneath a Viognier vine that is then shaken to allow the overripe grapes to drop unto the plate. Fermentation is then stopped early through the use of sulphur to allow the wine to retain a high level of residual sugar. The wine is then chilled and put through sterile filtering to ensure that the wine is stable and will not start fermenting again in the bottle.

The wine is meant to be consumed relatively young and typically loses its perfume as it ages. Depending on the winemaking style the grape can often hit its peak at one year of age though some can stay at high levels of quality up to ten years. Typically Condrieu wines are the Viogniers most often meant to be drunk young while Californian and Australian wines can handle age a little bit better.

Food pairing

The highly aromatic and fruit forward nature of the grape allows Viognier to pair well with spicy foods such as Thai cuisine. or Vietnamese cuisine.

Also, shellfish, such as Dungeness crab, are an ideal pairing.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viognier

Grüner Veltliner | White Wines

February 26th, 2008


Grüner Veltliner is a variety of white wine grape widely grown primarily in Austria and widely also in the Czech Republic, but almost nowhere else. It has a reputation of being a particularly food-friendly wine.

Loimer Gruner Veltliner | White WinesIt is made into wines of many different styles - much is intended for drinking young in the heurigen bars of Vienna, a little is made into sparkling wine, but some is capable of long ageing. The best has proven to be world-class in blind tastings against chardonnays.

The steep, Rhine-like vineyards of the Danube west of Vienna produce very pure, minerally Grüner Veltliners intended for laying down. Down in the plains, citrus and peach flavours are more apparent, with spicy notes of pepper and sometimes tobacco.

Species: Vitis vinifera
Also called: Grüner Muskateller (more)
Origin: Austria?
Notable regions: Lower Austria, Burgenland, Moravia, Czech Republic
Notable wines: Smaragds from Wachau

History

It is said that Grüner Veltliner dates back to Roman times but the name only appeared in the mid 19th century - before that time it was known as Grüner Muskateller. Until the Second World War it was regarded as just another Austrian grape, it took Lenz Moser’s Hochkultur system of vine training to really get the best out of it. Since the antifreeze scandal of 1985, Grüner Veltliner has been at the forefront of the switch in Austrian winemaking towards better quality, dry, wines.

Traminer is one parent of Grüner Veltliner according to recent DNA analysis. The other parent is unknown at present, but there appears to be no relationship to any of the other Veltliner varieties.

Distribution and Wines

Austria

Grüner Veltliner accounts for 36.0% of all vineyards in Austria, almost all of it being grown in the northeast of the country. Along the Danube to the west of Vienna, in Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, it grows with Riesling in terraces reminiscent of the Rhine, on slopes so steep they can barely retain any soil. The result is a very pure, minerally wine capable of long ageing, that stands comparison with some of the great wines of the world. In recent blind tastings organised by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Grüner Veltliners have beaten world-class Chardonnays from the likes of Mondavi and Louis Latour.

In the deeper clay soils in the Weinviertel to the northeast of Vienna Grüner Veltliner develops more of a spicy, peppery character, which can be aged although a lot of production is intended to be drunk young in the heurigen bars of Vienna. Some is made into sparkling wine in the far northeast around Poysdorf.

A little is grown south of Vienna, in the warmer climates of the vineyards towards the Hungarian plains, although the growers there are more interested in red and dessert wines.

Two of the first three DACs (geographical appellations) in Austria apply to Grüner Veltliner, the Weinviertel DAC and the Traisental DAC.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, particularly Southern Moravia close to the Austrian border, produces some Grüner Veltliners of notable quality. Grüner Veltliner wines form approximately 11% of Czech wine production. This makes Grüner Veltliner the second most widely grown white grape variety in the Czech Republic.

Hungary

A little is grown in Austria’s former imperial partner.

Grüner Veltliner | White WinesVine and Viticulture

The leaves are five-lobed and the bunches are long but compact, with deep green grapes that ripen in mid-late October.

Synonyms

Grüner Muskateller (in common usage until the 1930s), Green Veltliner, Greener Veltliner, GrüVe, Manhardsrebe, Weißgipfler, Weissgipfler.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr%C3%BCner_Veltliner

Breidecker | White Wines

February 26th, 2008


Breidecker | White WinesBreidecker is a German style light white wine with apple and pear flavors.

“This cultivar was released by the Geisenheim Research Station, Germany, in 1962. Has the technical name GM 4894. It was derived from a Müller-Thurgau cross with the Chancellor (a.k.a Seibel 7053) hybrid cultivar and can currently be found in limited areas on the south island of New Zealand where it is mainly used for producing somewhat neutral varietal and blend white wines. Resistant to Bunch Rot and Downy Mildew fungus diseases. [Breidecker] was named after Heinrich Breidecker, one of NZ’s pioneer grape growers.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breidecker

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