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Raylen Vineyards & Winery Viognier 2011

External Review:

It wasn’t that long ago when the Viognier variety was regarded as one of the rarest quality vinifera grapes in the world, its propagation all but restricted to the tiny Condrieu and even tinier Château-Grillet appellations of the Northern Rhone (and an allowed but infrequent appearance as a minor blending component in Côte Rôtie Syrahs).Wow, can things change quickly. With new clones and better viticulture worldwide, Viognier is perhaps the most remarkable comeback kid of the varietal catalogue. So popular has it become that even its original ACs in France have been revitalized, finding new interest from wine enthusiast. Today, Viognier can be found growing in just about every New World region, in both hemispheres – so much for finicky and difficult to grow. With its new found popularity, the question is, where is this variety performing best? Rapid increases in plantings in California have perhaps been less about matching terroir than meeting new demand, and more than a few that I have tried from CA appellations were overblown and sometimes obscene caricatures of what the varietal is supposed to be. At the other end of the spectrum, some examples from Canadian appellations have had such character anemia they were more akin to Trebbiano.It may well be that the eastern seaboard of the US is Viognier’s New World nirvana. Virginia is forging ahead and some might claim that Viognier is a signature varietal there. But fine Viogniers are also popping up from vineyards in southern neighbor North Carolina, such as this superb example from RayLen Vineyards. With deep green gold hues, you know it’s a big wine just from the color. Sure enough, the nose is brimming with classic Viognier aromas including floral blossoms and loads of peach and apricot fruit with roasted pineapple. A viscous mouthfeel offers juicy peach flavors, anise and fennel seed, with just enough of that typical Viognier bitter pithiness to lend structure to the lusciousness. The finish is bone dry but gives a sweet impression due to the lingering intensity of fruit. A final zing of acid reminds one that this is a wine from an eastern appellation.

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Color: White
Varietal: Viognier
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RayLen Vineyards & Winery:
RayLen Vineyards & Winery functioned as a dairy farm for nearly a century until 1998, when Joe & Joyce Neely purchased the land.  Today, the rolling hills and winding drive romance our guests as they drive through 35,000 European-varietal grape vines.  The distinctive cupola roof top of RayLen Vineyards & Winery is a beacon for the southern portion of the Yadkin Valley ... Read more
RayLen Vineyards & Winery functioned as a dairy farm for nearly a century until 1998, when Joe & Joyce Neely purchased the land.  Today, the rolling hills and winding drive romance our guests as they drive through 35,000 European-varietal grape vines.  The distinctive cupola roof top of RayLen Vineyards & Winery is a beacon for the southern portion of the Yadkin Valley Appellation.  Travelers from the highway and wanderers from the surrounding country roads are drawn to the tasting room to discover a new experience.  Loyal customers return for the lush vista and a reliable favorite of RayLen’s award-winning wines. Vintner Steve Shepard has established roots as a premier winemaker in North Carolina.  Though sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Godfather” of North Carolina wine,  Don Shepard has had an integral role in implementing the wine industry in North Carolina.  His education and career in commercial winemaking began in the early 80s in Pennsylvania, but he was drawn south less than a decade later as the original winemaker at the first Yadkin Valley winery.   Shepard has led RayLen Vineyards & Winery to win over 300 medals at various statewide, regional, national, and international competitions.  In 2011, Shepard earned the coveted Governor’s Cup for his 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.  RayLen has been lauded by various nationally syndicated media outlets for the stellar wine Shepard is producing. In the years since RayLen opened its doors, the winery has seen tremendous growth.  When Shepard first began making wines for RayLen in 2000, only 2,500 combined cases of five different wines were produced.  In 2009, RayLen become the only winery in North Carolina to install solar panels.  Through a co-operative effort with several local businesses, RayLen installed an innovative system of 104 panels, offsetting RayLen’s energy cost and carbon footprint by half.  RayLen recently expanded its square footage to include a spacious pavilion to accommodate large crowds and private parties.  Now, after more than a decade in the Yadkin Valley’s unique microclimate, RayLen Vineyards & Winery produces over 15,000 cases annually of sixteen different award-winning wines.  Visitors can also experience the exciting world of the winemaking process with a tasting or on an informative tour through the winery with our resident know-it-all, John Marshall.  Guests have a choice of several wine-tasting flights, which include a souvenir wine glass.  Wine tastings are personally catered to customers’ knowledge, from novice to oenophile, by our competent, friendly staff.  Whether the grapes are being harvested, fermenting in the temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, or aging in the oak barrels, there is always something to see on a tour.  Stop by to taste the wines praised by Southern Living, USA Today, and Our State. Taste the wine, tour the facility, and treat yourself.  Your vacation is only minutes away…                                             Read less

External Reviews for Raylen Vineyards & Winery Viognier

External Review
Vintage: 2004 10/16/2008

It wasn’t that long ago when the Viognier variety was regarded as one of the rarest quality vinifera grapes in the world, its propagation all but restricted to the tiny Condrieu and even tinier Château-Grillet appellations of the Northern Rhone (and an allowed but infrequent appearance as a minor blending component in Côte Rôtie Syrahs).Wow, can things change quickly. With new clones and better viticulture worldwide, Viognier is perhaps the most remarkable comeback kid of the varietal catalogue. So popular has it become that even its original ACs in France have been revitalized, finding new interest from wine enthusiast. Today, Viognier can be found growing in just about every New World region, in both hemispheres – so much for finicky and difficult to grow. With its new found popularity, the question is, where is this variety performing best? Rapid increases in plantings in California have perhaps been less about matching terroir than meeting new demand, and more than a few that I have tried from CA appellations were overblown and sometimes obscene caricatures of what the varietal is supposed to be. At the other end of the spectrum, some examples from Canadian appellations have had such character anemia they were more akin to Trebbiano.It may well be that the eastern seaboard of the US is Viognier’s New World nirvana. Virginia is forging ahead and some might claim that Viognier is a signature varietal there. But fine Viogniers are also popping up from vineyards in southern neighbor North Carolina, such as this superb example from RayLen Vineyards. With deep green gold hues, you know it’s a big wine just from the color. Sure enough, the nose is brimming with classic Viognier aromas including floral blossoms and loads of peach and apricot fruit with roasted pineapple. A viscous mouthfeel offers juicy peach flavors, anise and fennel seed, with just enough of that typical Viognier bitter pithiness to lend structure to the lusciousness. The finish is bone dry but gives a sweet impression due to the lingering intensity of fruit. A final zing of acid reminds one that this is a wine from an eastern appellation.



Tasting Notes:

An intoxicating floral bouquet replete with lavender and an elegant finish of peach and apricot.

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210 cases produced.

Closure: Cork

Wine Specs:

Alcohol: 13.4%

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