As a newer varietal in Washington State, we tend to get questions at the winery from those interested in how Viognier ages. I’ve always thought of Viognier as a “drink soon” wine: We’ve all experienced that luscious honey, mandarin orange blossom, and ripe peach character that practically jumps out of a glassful of young Viognier. However, after tasting another of our Viogniers five years out from the vintage last night, I am revising my opinion (I had our ’03 at 5 years old, and it was revealing as well). Washington Viognier can reward aging. A tasting note follows.
Last night was a delightfully warm evening here in Walla Walla, a trend that we are so grateful for during this VERY cool growing season. The weather looks good for the near future, with ideal ripening temperatures: Low high 80’s to low 90’s in the afternoons; mid- to high 50’s at night.
To be honest I did not have high expectations, thinking that perhaps it would be past its prime, but this is another case where wine can surprise even its creators.
It was a beautiful gold color, no sign of oxidation or browning. The nose was focused, vibrant orange blossom, honey, and ripe peach. By mouth, it was rounded, intense, and again, had superb flavor integrity with a hint of secondary bottle bouquet. I found an undertone of brown sugar…very slight and complex. The finish was clean, smooth and persistent. The wine came across as very youthful…begging the question: Should we save the next bottle and try it at age ten?
After almost 30 years working with and enjoying wines, I especially treasure those moments when a wine reveals new possibilities and potential – it keeps things interesting.
To start your own Viognier aging experiments, try starting with our current release Viognier. Have you already tried a “mature” Viognier? If so, let us know what you thought.
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The Winemaker’s Journal
A fourth-generation farmer, Casey McClellan was raised in Walla Walla, Washington. In 1982, he joined his father in planting the now-famous Seven Hills Vineyard. Inspired by this experience, Casey went on to earn a Masters of Science with a focus on enology from UC Davis, and in 1988, he and his wife, Vicky, founded Seven Hills Winery.
This blog will share his thoughts on winemaking, wine culture, washington wines and related topics.