The wines featured in Tuesday’s article had me in the mood to take a little more time to explore Viognier. A few days ago I had the opportunity to try a Riesling from a producer in Michigan, and it reminded me that it’s been a while since I featured some wines from any of America’s lesser known wine producing states. So, to knock out two objectives at once, today we’re heading back to Texas to taste two Viogniers from two awesome producers in the region.
What I like about these wineries is that they both are approachably priced and pretty well distributed in major grocery and liquor stores in Texas, which helps get consumers (at least within the state) trying wines from the region. I’m all about getting people to try new wines, and this kind of accessibility and high quality to price ratio makes these easy wines to feature.
Despite its recent increase in popularity on the market, Viognier is still pretty far from reaching the “household name” recognition level of better known grapes like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Fortunately consumers are starting to find more Viogniers on store shelves and wine lists, and are beginning to discover its one of a kind personality. Viognier, originally native to France’s Rhone Valley, thrives in the warm growing climate of Texas. Regionally adopted as something of a substitute for full bodied Chardonnay, Texas Viognier is round, plush, and smooth, with layers of dense aromatic complexity and an identity all its own.
Wine #1: Becker Vineyards 2008 Texas Viognier
It seems you can’t even talk about Texas wine without having a Becker Vineyards wine come up in the conversation. The depth and extent of their line is so substantial, that if a varietal is grown in the state, it is much more of a surprise to not find it being sold under brand than it is to find one, no matter how uncommon the grape. So far, we have discussed the wines of Texas a few times, and only mentioned Becker Vineyards in our “Texas Merlot Taste-Off”, but today, and undoubtedly in a number of Texas posts in the future, we will explore them in much more depth.
The winery produces everything from Riesling to Malbec, and they do an outstanding job of offering a Texas wine for every palate at an attractive price. The majority of their wines come from a blend of fruit from vineyards across the state. Becker’s commitment to quality means that each site is carefully selected, and many of their wines designate specific vineyards by name as their source, expressing the individual importance of the terroir of each vineyard.
The fruit for Becker’s Viognier is sourced from three vineyards, Bingham, Martin, and Reddy. Each of them surrounds the Texas High Plains, an area where the vineyards are typically planted between 3,300 and 3,500 feet elevation.
The nose on this wine is full of sweet and spicy mixed fruit cobbler tones. Cooked apples and yellow peaches play off of vanilla scented creamery butter aromas. A spin in the glass reveals soft notes of pink rose petals, green papaya and mango, and just a faint hint of pumice and white pepper.
The palate is creamy with a nice, smooth mouthfeel. Peach and yellow nectarine, honeyed, baked apples, and custard desserts make up the core of the flavor profile. It’s smooth and spicy at the same time, with a nice, soft kick of white pepper on the edges. The finish shows a rich, ripeness, and leaves the palate with a hint of mango skin. This is a somewhat different take on Viognier than what you would typically find from other places like California, it’s unique and very enjoyable.
87 points. Worth Trying.
Wine #2: Brennan Vineyards 2008 Texas Viognier
Brennan Vineyards was founded in 2001 and is quickly becoming one of the most promising new producers in the state. Positioned between the Texas High Plains and Texas Hill Country, Brennan has some excellent land to work with as they grow and evolve. Across their two brands, Brennan and Austin Street (their light hearted second label), they have a number of blends, a Muscat, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and of course, Viognier.
This bottling is completely unoaked, and the green almond, white clover, and delicately spiced golden apple tones on the nose make that very clear. There is an excellently firm minerality, a soft tone of chestnut, and a green, leafy, water lily-like component on the spin. Overall, it’s very appealing.
Smooth and delicate, the palate is ripe, with hints of white rose water, green almond, and a very soft note of cream. Melon and water lily, leaves, and some light honey tones combine with a mineral core of wet granite. The progression of this wine is its most interesting quality. It opens clean, becomes crisp and zippy with minerality, then oily, viscous, and almost creamy at the mid palate, finishing warm and satisfying. This is a very nice wine, and it’s easily…
Worth Buying. 89 points.
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