Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: 2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier Santa Ynez Valley

Following The Rootstock From Sunshine To Bedrock

Bottom Line: Well made.  Very French style with more place than fruit.  Not for fans of lush body, but will excite those in search of something deeper. $20



The Rest Of The Story: (Disclosure: This wine was received as a press sample from the winery.) Brook Williams, President/CEO & Winegrower at Zaca Mesa, was kind enough to ship us a bottle of his Viognier after our romancing of his seductive Syrah.  A romance which continues...

But first, briefly, a quick primer on Viognier...It's a funny white varietal.  Persnickety, like Pinot Noir, it likes hang time, but doesn't like hot weather.  Left to ripen too long, it can hit you over the head with upsidedown pineapple cake flavors and cloying sugars.  But done right, it can channel the land on which its grown through a vibrant, delicate layering of bright flavors.  And this one is done right.

Not unlike Andrew Murray's wines, this one is interesting, different, and not for everybody... An uncommonly rich reflection of the place where the vines grow - morso than a reflection of the varietal.  This Viognier could easily be mistaken for a French Chablis.  Clean, flinty, steely notes bounce off its shimmery surface.  It's light-medium bodied with an innocuous texture.

But what becomes apparent after you get past first glance is that all of the other components of this whine serve as a quiet vehicle for the kaleidoscope of flavors that hit your palate.  Slight, lean fruit, generous acids, and layers of ingredients come at you like layers of sediment in an archaeological dig.  It tastes like you're following the rootstock from sunshine to bedrock.  Clearly a well made wine.

Those seeking gushing, luscious fruit will do well to stick to their Central Coast Chardonnays.  But those is search of something deeper, of a more intimate reflection of the earth, will be stimulated by this Viognier.

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