A New World Viognier Worth Making Exceptions For

I love European wine. Maybe it?s the centuries of history, or the connection to culture and cuisine.?Or maybe I just like the earth-driven character of the wines better than the fruit-driven wines of the new world. But not always?

The girlfriend and I were at a tasting the other day, staining our teeth purple with some local Syrah and other Rhone varieties. We approached a table featuring the wines of Dominio IV, one being a Viognier. I announced, with certainty, that I actually prefer the new world style of Viognier over the French.? She just about fell over.

French Viognier hails from a small corner of the Northern Rhone region, from two appellations. Condrieu is well recognized, but there is also a tiny appellation named for just one estate, Chateau Grillet. I love other Rhone Valley whites but for some reason, the French style is to overload Viognier with oak. New oak even (gasp). Gobs of it. I mean, the stuff is like the toast I make for the daughter at breakfast, dripping with butter!

Luckily, Oregon’s?local winemakers take a different approach.? Fermenting in stainless steel and aging in old oak barrels with a neutral taste, these?Viognier comes out fresh, lively and exuberant. The Dominio IV jumped out of the glass with aromas of flowers and tropical fruits. Honeysuckle, jasmine, orange blossom, honeydew, passion fruit were all present. The palate had some weight to it, with some leesy or biscuit aromas left over from fermentation. It all finished well with echoes of the flowers and fruits. The wine was dry, but not bracing and overall, a lovely improvement on the French original.

Dominio IV 2013 “Still Life” Viognier – The price for this wine wasn’t available on the?winery’s?website, but I?purchased it for an astonishing $18/bottle at the Celebration of Syrah?(though I’ve?seen it listed for as much as $22 retail). A?very worthy purchase.

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