Home > Viognier, Wine Tasting > Battle of Viogniers: Texas Wins!

Battle of Viogniers: Texas Wins!

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments
One of the fascinating  things about blogging is that you get to meet a lot of great people online. Moreover, you meet people who is passionate about the same subject as you are. And then, at some point, you can even meet those people in real life. This was my story Wednesday last week, when I met @SAHMmelier, who happened to live in Austin (you can find her blog here). As soon as we met, the feeling was that we knew each other for ages – it was so easy to start conversation (it was much more difficult to stop it later : )). Thanks to @SAHMmelier, I got a full embrace of the Texas wines, at the “Texas versus The World” meetup hosted by GUSTO Tastings, which we attended together.

GUSTO Tastings does a great job of hosting multiple wine events every month, each one with a slightly different purpose. Each first Wednesday of the month, the members of the meetup get together for “Texas versus the world” event where the group gets to taste and compare wines made in Texas with similar wines made in the other countries and regions – this was the exact event we attended, and it was dedicated to Viognier (the November event will be all about Tempranillo or Sangiovese, which should be very interesting, as I think both of those grapes produce very good results in Texas – oh well, I will have to live vicariously through that one…). GUSTO Tastings also runs blind tasting events once a month, which are some of the most exhilarating experiences for wine aficionados. Anyway, if you live in a close proximity to Austin (or few other cities in Texas), you should definitely check GUSTO Testings out and use the opportunity to learn about the wines.

Let me tell you now about the event. First of all, we had the best table in the town. We were lucky enough to meet and share the table with Flat Creek Estate winemaker Tim Drake, a witty and charismatic guy and his lovely wife Spring. In addition to all the fun conversations at the table, it was  even more fun listening to Tim delivering his thoughts in bright and engaging fashion, with the ability to use very convincing expressions to emphasize his point (I will have to refrain from repeating his vivid answer and explanation for the question about Reserve wines).

This particular event was all about Viognier, once nearly extinct Rhone white grape varietal. A few month ago there was a Wine Blogging Wednesday dedicated to Viognier, so for more details about the grape, including the link to the short video teaching you how to say that “Viognier” word correctly, here is the link to my blog post.

During the course of the evening, we tasted through 17 different Viognier wines – 8 from around the world, and 9 from Texas. All the wines where split into the flights of four, and the last flight had 5 wines in it.

The first four wines represented the old world – my notes are below:

  1. 2009 Cacciagrande Viognier, Maremma, Toscana – very unusual, I had no idea Viognier is used in Tuscany. The wine had a beautiful nose of classic Riesling, sweet with a hint of petrol – but palate didn’t support that nose at all. Acidic, briny, not pleasant. Drinkability: 6-
  2. 2011 Domaine des Cantarelles Viognier, Vin de Pays du Gard – Typical nose – perfume, full body expectation -but the body is too watery, almost Pinot Grigio style… Acidic aftertaste. Drinkability: 6
  3. 2009 Vidal-Fleury Cote du Rhone – Strange nose, a bit vegetative, and then very oily (I never had a wine before with such a mouthfeel; scotch – yes, but wine? Never), some muted fruit – not good. Drinkability: 5
  4. 2009 E. Guigal Condrieu – this wine was redeeming the first flight – beautiful concentrated nose, with touch of sugar candy. Nice and delicate on the palate, but not enough power. Drinkability: 7

Flight number 2 consisted of the New World wines:

  1. 2010 Cono Sur Viognier, Colchagua Valley, Chile – Beautiful nose, touch perfumy, perfectly round palate, good acidity, some green apples. Drinkability: 7+ (best so far)
  2. 2010 La Capra Viognier, Western Cape, South Africa – somewhat green on the nose, with some matchstick. Let me stop here for a second, and I have a question for you, my readers. Have you ever experienced anything like that? Is that a showing of the extra sulfates used during the production? Anyway, let’s continue – there was also some minerality on the nose (or at least Tim suggested that it was) Pleasant on the palate, more of a Sauvignon Blanc qualities – lime, touch of grapefruit. As I was all puzzled by the nose, I’m not even sure how I want to rate this wine.
  3. 2010 Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley, Australia. If the previous wine had one matchstick on the nose, this one had a whole box. While that smell was going away little by little, the initial encounter with that wine almost game me a headache. Strange nose at first (heavy matchstick? Sulfites?). The wine opened up eventually on the palate into the medium to full bodied wine, retaining some sharpness. Considering that smell (which rendered the wine literally undrinkable to me) I can’t rate it. I can only hope that it was a particular faulty bottle…
  4. 2010 Miner Viognier Oakville ’Simpson Vineyard’, Napa. Perfect nose – great bright fruit, nice perfume. Best nose so far. Palate doesn’t live up – kind of flat and unimpressive. Judging nose by itself this wine should get Drinakability of 8, but as a whole,  I can only give it a 6.

The next flight included a vertical of 4 wines from Flat Creek Estate Winery. As all of those wines were made out of grapes which didn’t grow in Texas (but the wine, of course, was made in Texas), they don’t carry Texas designation on the label. I have to admit that somehow I missed to take a picture of this flight, so just to give you an idea, I had to borrow the picture from the Flat Creek Estate’s web site.

  1. 2008 Flat Creek Estate Winery Viognier. Nose was practically non-existent (I couldn’t pickup any aroma), sweet on the palate. It is drinkable, but not great. Drinkability: 7
  2. 2009 Flat Creek Estate Winery Viognier. Nice nose, more of a typical viognier. Palate is touch out of balance (a bit sharp), but very drinkable. Drinkability: 7
  3. 2010 Flat Creek Estate Winery Viognier. Beautiful bright nose, touch of the pear preserve, fresh brewed tea on the nose. Needs a bit more acid on the palate. Drinkability: 7-
  4. 2011 Flat Creek Estate Winery Viognier. Perfect nose. Bright, clean, nice white fruit. Outstanding, perfect acidity, ripe fruit, perfect balance. Lodi fruit. To this point, this was my favorite! Drinkability: 8.

As we went to the all-Texas flight, Tim gave a great explanation to the room about different types of yeast and their ability to bring different qualities to the wine (more glycerin versus more esters etc.). And this is all in the hands of the winemaker. Yep, winemaking is Art…

And now, to the all Texas flight (look at my notes – they all show a progression of tasting as the wines were opening in the glass):

  1. 2011 Lone Oak Winery Viognier, Texas. Smell is similar to detergent. Not balanced. Not good. then it opened up on the nose, but with a note of brine. Pretty balanced now. Drinkability: 7+
  2. 2010 Brennan Vineyards Viognier, Texas. Some sweetness on the nose. Same sweetness on the palate – but not balanced. Needs more acidity. Leaves burning feeling. Improved after a breathing time!!! Much better! Drinkability: 7
  3. 2011 Becker Vineyards, Viognier, Texas. Nice nose, some gooseberry, little complexity. Finish is short. Drinkable, but not exciting. Drinkability: 6+
  4. 2010 McPherson Cellars Viognier, Texas. Interesting complexity on the nose. Sweet with some green notes. Beautiful palate, good round wine. Drinkability: 7+

And now (drum roll, please) let me present to you my best of tasting wine:

2012 Flat Creek Estate Winery Viognier, Texas. Barrel sample. Beautiful nose, light fruit, white fruit. 100% Texas fruit (brownfield). Very nice, good overall, some zest – really pleasant! Drinkability: 8+

The fact that grapes were picked 6 weeks ago, and that Tim had blended wine in the morning of the day of the tasting, is just makes it an incredible experience all together.

There you have it, folks – Texas makes great wines, so if you can get them – you should! And if your travel will take you down to Texas – make sure the wineries are part of your trip. You can tell them I sent you. Cheers!

  1. October 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

    It looks like they certainly stacked the deck in Texas’ favor!

    • talkavino
      October 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      Definitely feels like Viognier is a right varietal for Texas. But also it would be very interesting to compare Texas and Virginia Viogniers side by side – I had some magnificent wines in Virginia.

  2. October 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Such a fun evening and so glad you could join me. Next time we will hit some wineries! Cheers!

    • talkavino
      October 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm



  1. October 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm
  2. December 23, 2012 at 2:27 am
  3. December 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm
  4. August 10, 2013 at 9:00 am
  5. January 25, 2015 at 7:48 am

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