This pale straw colored Viognier shows the 2011 vintage very well. It is all about crunchy acidity, delicate fruit and subtle complexities. It is very different then past Viognier’s from Tarara in that it is not about the richness or exotic fruit often associated with the variety. The aromas are intense shooting from the glass with citrus and some stone fruit character laying over some herbal and grassy tones that seem almost Sauvignon Blanc like. The palate is light and fresh with loads of crisp acidity, granny smith apple and grapefruit elements leading to a long and clean fruit forward finish.
This wine wants delicate but pronounced flavors with good acidity. This would work beautifully with Pan Seared Diver Scallops topped with a lemon and dill beurre blanc served over asparagus and ricotta stuffed ravioli in a white wine and lemon grass herb sauces (chervil and tarragon).
Williams Gap vineyard has a steep south facing exposure giving an abundance of sunlight. The soils are mostly defined as Penn Silt Loam (hard red clay) which generates more fruit forward, easy drinking wines. It is a somewhat cooler site generally, regardless of the abundant sunlight, because of its relatively good elevation of about 950 feet. There is also a generally good breeze that covers that vineyard leaving fewer worries for moisture sticking with the fruit and canopy and therefore helping to maintain a clean vineyard. The vines in this vineyard are still young (7th Leaf) meaning that they still have yet to really show their true potential and showcase the true terroir so it is bottled as a varietal wine instead of vineyard designate.
Maggie’s Vineyard is a new vineyard to us in 2011 that is on Harper’s Ferry Road technically in Purcellville, but very close to the West Virginia border. It is a rolling sight that stays quite cool through the summer creating more herbaceous and crisper styles of Viognier, sometimes almost reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2011 vintage simply put was heartbreaking at the time, but has turned out to be so much more then originally thought. There is no question that what everyone will remember was the harvest rains and lack of sunshine through the month of September. What very few people remember is the brilliant growing season that we had leading up to harvest time. Bud break was about a week earlier then average and the Spring brought just enough rain to keep the vines healthy through the warm and very dry summer months of June, July and August. There was great fruit set which was tempting to allow for a heavy crop especially after the relatively short but excellent quality 2010. This it turns out was critical for 2011. Those who managed for a lower yield really got a better chance to have some earlier flavor development and sugar ripening prior to the rains starting in the earlier to mid season white varieties like Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and even some Petit Manseng. While most wines do show some signs of dilution and several lack varietal character, there are some stunning wines from the vintage. Look mostly toward elegant and sometimes quite complex white while the reds will be lighter, fruit forward and easy drinking.
We were far less risky in making the Viognier this year given that both of these vineyards were picked relatively late in a very wet harvest season. The grapes were carefully sorted with about 15% being disposed to ensure the best quality fruit made it to the fermenter. The grapes were whole cluster pressed apposed to last years long skin soak. This was to get more delicacy given the lighter nature of the fruit. The juice was cool (58 degrees) fermented before the vineyards were blended after racking once. The wine was then cold and heat stabilized before being filtered and bottled in March 2012.