Pliny the Elder, the Roman author, was a fan of wines from the Rhône Valley. Something he wrote nearly 2,000 years ago struck winemaker Pierre Gaillard, a student of wine history, as a tip for finding something almost incredible today: unused Grand Cru-level terroir in the heart of French wine country.
Twenty years ago, John Alban started Hospice du Rhône as an event to promote viognier wines. Over the past two decades it has come to be a global Rhône gala. So, it seemed rather fitting, on this 20th anniversary of HdR, to take a look at just how this variety, almost universally proclaimed as not age worthy, changes over time.
Editors' note: To close 2011, Palate Press: The online wine magazine will be featuring some of our top stories from the past year. Our sixth piece comes from Lenn Thompson, giving us coverage of the Virginia wine industry's continued growth and the future challenges the state may face.
Quite an unusual wine from this Okanagan Valley winery : a field blend of grenache, viognier and marsanne, pressed together and fermented together in oak barrels, thus creating an unusual, largely blanc de noirs, white wine. Coming from a cool vintage, it has an edgy, vibrant touch, combining the aromatics of Rhône varieties with a blend of lime and tropical flavors. Crisp, it also has good weight and a fairly round mouthfeel. creating a unique profile and balance. It is, at this point, a very young wine. A year or two in bottle will round it out, and it may well have several more years of life in it. Highly Recommended. RC
From the Denver/Boulder area, the Grand Valley AVA of Colorado is past the Continental Divide on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The trip westward on Interstate 70, which winds through canyons that the word "pcturesque" struggles to describe, is rewarding if undertaken carefully to avoid notorious mountain traffic.
Well-balanced, very aromatic and tropical on the nose but dry and refreshing as you gulp it down happily in the summer heat, it was also one of the closest things to Rhône Viognier I tried all weekend. Well-defined and quite pleasant, it goes well with charcuterie, smoked fish, and spicy Asian food. 20% of the wine is aged in oak—but I couldn’t have told you that without reading it. Recommended. RC
A modern wine industry that started with a handful of estates in the late 1970s has exploded to nearly 200 wineries covering every corner of the state, including six AVAs. According to the Virginia Wine Board, the state ranks fifth in the country in wine grape production, and produces more than 500,000 cases of wine per year. Clearly Virginia is already a player in the East Coast wine community, but can it go further?
Clear, medium intensity straw yellow. Clean nose with medium intensity aromas of honeysuckle, orange zest, baked yellow apples, pear, and clean linen sheets. Dry on the palate with medium acidity, full body, and flavors of apple, pear, white flowers, sweet hay, honeycomb and orange tea. Long finish. Pair with a summer salad dressed in an orange-fennel vinaigrette. Highly recommended.