Viognier Tasting Notes

The renaissance of a White Rhone varietal





2010 Seven Hills Viognier Columbia Valley  14.2%

Very nicely aromatic with hints of grilled pineapple over perfumed floral undertones and a bed of French toast dusted with vanilla, cinnamon and maple. A touch of wood sweetness greets the tongue. This firms up quickly to show good tension and acid spine supporting rather rich, fairly opulent floral peach fruit. There’s a touch more pineapple on the back end along with a hint of lemongrass before this drifts away on the firm and fairly long finish. Really well made, they really nailed this even if it’s not my style. 91pts

2010 Eberle Mill Road Vineyard Viognier Paso Robles 14.9%

This is full of fruit blossoms on the nose, with layers of lemongrass, lychee and jasmine over bitter orange fruit. Big on entry, this is a rich wine. It is a bit slick in texture but full of flavor with orange, apricot and apple flavors. There’s plenty of acid and a finely managed edge of polyphenolic bitterness that enlivens the palate. This is in a fruitier style to be sure, but one that skates a very fine line. The finish shows a bit more phenol than the palate, but it balances out the sweetness perfectly and lends this a quince jam quality. A nice blend of intensity and structure. 90pts

2011 Praxis Viognier Russian River Valley 13.4%

Lovely on the nose with focus to the exotic floral aromas and hints of creamy peach, grapefruit and ginger. A nice upright style of Viognier, this doesn’t spread across the palate but instead stays nicely bound to the rigid spine of supporting acidity. The texture is a touch creamy and the flavors recall the nose with a creamy style, though the peach, lime and apple flavors are fresh and bright. The finish fades away to a mineral tone before coming back with more creamy, tropical fruit tones. Very cherimoya fruit with a lovely spicy herbal overlay. Not a huge wine but nicely complete. 90pts

2010 Desert Wind Bare Naked Desert Wind Vineyard Viognier Wahluke Slope 14.5%

Lovely on the nose with a bright freshness to the lightly tropical aromas, recalling mangosteen, kiwi, peach and apricot, all topped with tropical floral notes. A vague sweetness adds some roundness here, offering up a fine blend of richness and clarity. The flavors are fresh and bright with peach and limeade on the palate and a lightly floral inner-mouth perfume that includes some fragrant apple skins. The finish is dry and firm, tense even, with good length and fine cut. Lithe and elegant. 90pts

2009 Paul Jaboulet Secret de Famille Viognier 13%

Rather stony and mean on the nose with a vetiver floral accent to the lean, dusty green apple and apricot fruit. Rich but soft in the mouth, this is broad and low on the palate with some earthy, slightly honeycomb-tinged apple, nectarine and quince flavors. The texture and freshness are the appeal here, made evident on the moderately long finish. In fact, the finish shows the full potential of the wine with more quince and apricot jam notes and fine persistence. This is very nice. It is filling out on the palate a bit and delivers a subtle yet elegant Viognier experience. 88pts

2010 Mounts Family Viognier Dry Creek Valley 14.8%

Classic Viognier nose here with clear notes of peach, jasmine, ginger and bitter orange marmalade over toast. Quite soft in the mouth with a light raw nuttiness early on, followed by diffuse flavors of honeycomb, peach and lime leaf fruit. The finish is light and fairly short, showing some alcohol as well as a return of the fine aromatics of the nose, but there’s not a lot to this on the mid-palate. 87pts


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Comments

  • Dear Gregory,
    I have to admit being hugely disappointed with Viognier based wines in the United States. One of my great favourite appellations is Condrieu and I try to taste as much Viognier as I can in the hope of coming across such a similar wonderful complex balance between fruit and minerality (which as I'm sure you would agree is the hallmark of this wonderful grape). The sad fact is that all the Californian Viognier I have tasted is basically fruit notes - some very peach and apricot drenched as you rightly point out. But they are all very one-dimensional. I tried just about all the Viognier in Santa Ynes and Ojai recently. It's over-priced and really just fruit forward - very little structure at all.
    Now I'm not saying that all Viognier can reach the heights of a fine Condrieu and be similarly priced. But for example K and L sell Yves Cuillerons Viogner 2010, Vin de Pays Des Collinnes Rhodaniennes at 27.99. Now if you could show me a US produced Viognier that stands up to Cuilleron's in price and complexity I'd be buying it by the case load.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 2:59 PM


  • Snooth User: Buckyboy
    888314 17

    In response to alexharvey, try the Viognier from Pride Mountain Vineyards on the Napa-Sonoma border. It is excellent!

    Mar 27, 2012 at 3:27 PM


  • My favorite right now is Freemark Abbey, but I like dry Vioginer. Also David Bruce Vioginer/Roussane is wonderful.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 3:47 PM


  • Thanks Buckyboy and tastingroomaz. I'll try both Freemark and Pride Mountain Vineyards in the hope of finding some minerality, that wonderful 'gravelly' undertow with balances the powerful fruit that you get in the good Southern Rhone Viogniers. But I do wonder whether the terrain and the soil here is just too good and accounts for why up to now all I find in the Californian expression of the grape is fruit and more fruit.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 4:10 PM


  • Snooth User: RUS
    119003 269

    McManus Family Viognier (CA) is a nice every day wine, as it their Petite Syrah.

    Speaking of Virginian Viognier, I brought the Jefferson Vineyards Viognier 2009 to a tasting last weekend and it was well received. I don't know that it's twice the wine the McManus is, but the law of diminishing returns effects all wine purchases.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM


  • @RUS - I'll also try the Jefferson Viognier. But the question I raise again fellow vinophiles - is does American Viognier have anything other than fruit notes (luscious and fulsome though that fruit can be)?

    Mar 27, 2012 at 4:41 PM


  • Snooth User: jjknight38
    Hand of Snooth
    40356 689

    2007 Bien Nacido Viognier from Anglim Winery in Paso Robles was a brute of a wine! Shared with about 6 people at a summer park and it lasted about 15 minutes.This iteration did seem to find that balance between the phenol bitterness and rich flavors of honey and peach as a counterpoint. Residual sugar...probably, but enjoyable without being too cerebral.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 5:56 PM


  • Snooth User: BettyWine
    644768 2

    I love Porter Creek's Viognier. Has anybody here tried it? I'd love to hear what you think.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 8:28 PM


  • How could you forget about Morgan Clendenen and her brand Cold Heaven. She has been specializing in cool climate Viognier since 1996.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 8:54 PM


  • @StaRitaHills
    Now Cold Heaven is exactly the kind of Southern Californian Viognier that I have tasted extensively and I think is overpriced and extremely limited. It can retail for as much as 34 dollars and is simply not worth it. That was why I posted earlier about the Southern Rhone Viogniers such as Yves Cuilleron's Van de Pays. One has to have a greater sense of what this grape, in fine winemaking hands and good terroir, can deliver. Not simply a ripe mushiness of floral and excess fruit notes. But something more complex and layered. Something that can rival a fine White Burgundy at times.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM


  • @StaRitaHills
    Now Cold Heaven is exactly the kind of Southern Californian Viognier that I have tasted extensively and I think is overpriced and extremely limited. It can retail for as much as 34 dollars and is simply not worth it. That was why I posted earlier about the Southern Rhone Viogniers such as Yves Cuilleron's Van de Pays. One has to have a greater sense of what this grape, in fine winemaking hands and good terroir, can deliver. Not simply a ripe mushiness of floral and excess fruit notes. But something more complex and layered. Something that can rival a fine White Burgundy at times.

    Mar 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM


  • Morgan Clendenen and Yves Cuilleron have been collaborating together on multiple vintages & share the label Domaine des Deux Mondes. Yes Yves crafts a vin de pays, but he is a Northern Rhone winemaker holding 52 hectares in multiple AOPs including Condriue and Côte Rôtie. Futhermore just because a wine is labelled vin pays does not necessarily mean it's a regional wine. With 90 something %of wines in the Rhine being produced in the south I would not be surprised if he was working with some southern Rhine grapes. And of course you know there are no Viognier specific AOPs in the south. Are you sure there are southern rhone grapes in his vin de pays or is it just produced outside of AOP regulation? You wrote of complexed and layered viogniers then in the next sentence white burgundy, Viognier is by nature a less acidic grape than chardonnay. I suggest you drink burgundy if you want burgundy. Viognier should lift from the glass. Good luck with your Paso viogniers.

    Mar 28, 2012 at 1:31 AM


  • Fuck iPads I meant *** Rhône

    Mar 28, 2012 at 1:33 AM


  • Thanks @ StaRitaHills for the information about the collaboration between Cuilleron and Morgan Clendenen - very interesting. And yes, of course your right that Cuilleron is a Northern Rhone producer, famed for his Condrieu. The vins de pays des Collines Rhondaniennes come from the Rhone wine hills which apparently allow them to go as far as parts of the Loire, Ardeche as well as Southern Rhone. And you are right too that great Viognier should lift from the glass. But I stand by my main point which is about powerful structure of good Viognier. Not just 'specious perfume and sweetness' as Jancis Robinson once put it. Opulent with fruit yes but also with sufficient acidity. Now where do I find that in American viognier?

    Mar 28, 2012 at 2:18 AM


  • Being that Virginia is known for its Viognier and including not one in this review is a smack in the face to Virginia winemakers. Yet you include a Texan Viognier? I think that taints the validity of your review altogether. Although I always stand by the motto - "Drink what you like and ignore the wine snobs."

    Jul 03, 2012 at 2:39 PM


  • Snooth User: redwine89
    503255 74

    I really enjoy the Alexandria Nicole Viognier from Columbia Valley, Washington State

    Oct 19, 2012 at 3:45 PM


  • Snooth User: messygonzo
    1327679 35

    I love Porter Creek's Viognier. Has anybody here tried it? I'd love to hear what you think.

    Aug 02, 2013 at 6:11 AM


  • extremely good

    Sep 09, 2013 at 3:19 PM


  • Snooth User: cglaw2013
    1341096 33

    beautiful

    Sep 11, 2013 at 4:06 AM


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