Discovering Viognier

I have a confession to make.

I got a little carried away with making up fun names for this post. I ended up using “Discovering Viognier” because this is the grape I am currently exploring, and thought it would sound the most “professional”. I’m also not sure if you would appreciate the other names I came up with. But really, wouldn’t it have been a little more catchy to have a playful name for the title? Things always stick better in my mind if I have some fun with them, and there are so many amusing options with the letter V.

For example.

Vive la Viognier.

Voluptuous Viognier.

Vivacious Viognier.

Versatile Viognier.

And my personal favourite – Viogn-yay!

(Isn’t that just the best?)

img_2126

Oh Boy. I’m sure wine snobs everywhere are cringing with horror at what I just wrote.

Ah, wine snobs. I love ya. You’re just kinda fun to tease sometimes.

img_3538

I admit, my approach to wine is a bit more light-hearted than some can appreciate. But my reason for the “Viogn-yay!” is because that’s how I feel when I drink it. It makes me happy, and cheers me up a bit. I don’t exactly know why, but for some reason, this has been my reaction to Viognier. It is different for other wines, though. If I drink a Merlot, for instance, I seem to feel soothed, comforted, cozy. Maybe that’s just me, but I think this observation is important. Aren’t a lot of our thoughts about wine tied up in our moods, our emotional state, and what we’re thinking or feeling that day?

I’ll give you an illustration.

img_1006

Ken and I were on vacation in Cuba a few years back. The place we were at had a decent wine list – nothing too fancy, but some nice Chilean and Argentinian bottles. We had such a good time on that trip. The weather was beautiful, we loved the Cuban people we met, our resort was lovely, and overall we were feeling pretty darn alright with the world. We went for dinner one night at the end of our trip, and I ordered some wine. Of course, I ordered wine every night, but this night stands out in particular. When my glass arrived, I couldn’t believe it.

This wine was AMAZING. I had never tasted anything like it. Rich, smooth, and luscious, just full of flavour. I started to think it was one of the nicest wines I had tried so far. I couldn’t believe that I had stumbled upon a potential “favourite wine ever” while on vacation in Cuba.

Well guess what.

When we got home, I discovered I could get this same wine here. I was terribly excited, and bought a few bottles – waiting for the weekend to pour some memories-of-Cuba-happiness-in-a-glass.

But it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I remembered from Cuba. It was rather meh.

It seems like it was my emotional state that contributed in large part to my love for that wine in Cuba. Drinking it back home in Toronto after a stressful day, it just didn’t match up. It wasn’t that the bottle was corked or anything. I opened up all the bottles I bought of it and had the same reaction.

Those who have more wine knowledge than I do might say there are other explanations for this. But to my mind, my emotions play a big role in what I like or don’t like.

img_2136

I’m sharing this story with you so you understand a bit of my approach to wine. I’m not going to give you tasting notes or descriptions, or tell you what points these wines have received, because that’s really not my thing. There are lots of wine experts out there who are excellent at that. Besides, it’s been my experience that you just might not get the flavour notes that I get. So I think you should try the wine for yourself and see what YOU get.

img_0887

Viognier has been in my glass this summer almost as often as my beloved Chardonnay. It seems there may be very good reasons for my Viognier love. Some say that it’s a bit similar to Chardonnay, and can produce some pretty lush, full-bodied wines – so perhaps that’s why I enjoy them so much. They can be quite aromatic too – with notes of peach, apricot or pear, and even some floral notes. There can also be a zing of minerality. To sum it all up, there’s a lot going on in that glass.

That’s all the technical talk I’m going to give you. For a general overview of Viognier characteristics and other wine geek knowledge, you can click here or here

Let’s get back to the wines now.

The first one I purchased for this post was at Creekside Estate Winery.

img_8918

I was lucky that they had a bottle of the 2014 Reserve Viognier open on the day I visited, so I got to taste it. It’s everything I love about Viognier. If you go there to taste it yourself, try to combine it with having lunch on The Deck. It’s a lovely spot to relax for a bit and the food is very tasty.

I also still have a bottle of the 2013 Reserve Viognier from Creekside, so I’m thinking I might do a taste comparison with the 2014. Of course, I’ll need to have some other Viognier lovers join me for this festivity.

The next one, from Malivoire.

img_0959

I’ve been to Malivoire a few times recently. They blew me away earlier this year with their variety of incredible Chardonnays, and I’m happy to say the experience was repeated with the 2015 Stouck Viognier. According to their website, it’s almost sold out already, and I can certainly see why.

img_0981

I’ve purchased the Fielding Viognier before and enjoyed it, so naturally I included them in this round-up. A few bottles from Stratus are always in my cellar, and I’m so lucky that they are about two minutes away from my house. This Viognier is from 2012, and really is a beaut. The middle bottle pictured above is from The Good Earth. I stopped in there for the first time ever a few weeks back, and I’m so glad I did. They still had some of their 2013 Viognier available, and had just bottled the 2015. I’m told it will be available at The Good Earth very soon

The last one in my group for this post comes from 13th Street Winery.

img_1007

I’ve made a couple of stops at 13th Street this summer. Such a pretty setting, with a beautiful renovated farmhouse building that I just love. After you try the 2015 Viognier, make sure you pop into 13th Street Bakery for some of their famous Butter Tarts. They are legendary.

img_0574

One of the things I’ve enjoyed doing a few times this year, is focusing on a particular varietal and seeing how it is expressed here in Niagara. It’s a great way to tour around the region, taste some good wines, and make much-needed purchases for my wine rack. I’ve really enjoyed my Viognier exploration, and know there are still a few more ones that I have to try. I also did a Chardonnay Road Trip back in May, and I loved comparing and tasting the differences between the wineries that I went to. I barely scratched the surface there, so I’m sensing I’ll need a sequel to that trip. Next up, I’m thinking a focus on Pinot Noir or Gamay – two wines I am trying to learn more about as well.

In the meantime, I think I need to have one big Viognier Tasting Party.

Wanna join me?