Versatile Viognier

Viognier_Viala_et_Vermorel

To step back from the doom and gloom of last week’s post- don’t worry, I have another one of the sort planned for next week- I thought a nice happy post on a spotlight grape varietal would be just the ticket.  Since the few blogs I’ve done on varietals have been red varietals, I’m giving white ones a chance.  As you may have guessed from the extremely enigmatic title, the winemaker chose Viognier as his favorite white varietal grown at Naggiar.  So why Viognier?  Along with the fact that he tends to identify with the ABC contingent (anything but chardonnay), it is the white varietal that is predominantly planted at Naggiar.  Ok, he has a disclaimer in there that “Chardonnay can be a wonderful varietal when made correctly in California” as well as being very malleable, but Viogner is- here it comes- the most versatile white varietal out there.  Viognier, along with being a more food-centric varietal,  can be like anything from a flinty Sauvignon Blanc to a lush Chardonnay, all at once.  Think of it as the Tom Hanks of grape varietals.

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Viognier originally comes from the Rhone river valley in the south of France.  Rhone varietals grow really well in the Sierra foothills as the climates of the two regions are similar.  To ripen properly, Viognier needs a good amount of heat during the day but cooler nights.  If it gets too much heat over the 24 hour day, it tends to be oxidized and heavily alcoholic (hmm, sounds like a few people I know).  Conversely, if there is not enough heat, you get a product that gives you the feeling you might need to visit your gastroenterologist for an acid reflux problem.  As I mentioned, Viognier is the most planted white varietal at Naggiar with four different blocks of it throughout the vineyard and two different clones on various rootstocks.

As to the winemaking aspect, we pick the fruit on the earlier side and then ferment the Viognier in a mixture of stainless steel and wood, but predominantly in steel.  We even use a portion of it to ferment with various red varietals to help fix color and add a nice floral aspect to the wine.  We use Viognier both as a varietal program and in our proprietary white blends, those being our Mama Mia, Trois Demoiselles, Bellissima, and Contessa.  Our current varietal Viognier is the 2011 vintage characterized by aromas of peach, pineapple, honeydew, and jasmine with hints of oak and a long smooth finish.  This wine pairs well with light chicken and seafood dishes as well as mild spiced ones.  If you have a hankering for dessert after, well, we have got you covered there as well as we make a late harvest Viognier-one of two dessert wines we have.  If you are thinking rich and creamy, like cheesecake or creme brûlée, then our late harvest Viognier is a perfect sidekick.

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As you can see, we have quite a selection of Viognier wines to choose from.  We’d love to see you up here where you can taste the wines to find out which one you like best.  Even better, buy a bottle of it and enjoy it a home while watching a movie- say Castaway or Forrest Gump.

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About dwdirwin

Wife of Naggiar Vineyards winemaker Derek Irwin, mother to 4 active kids and one dog and newbie blogger!
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