Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A couple of lovely young Viognier wines - one dry, one sweet

Continuing my recent theme of white wines, here's a couple of lovely 100% Viognier wines we've enjoyed over the past few days, one dry, one sweet - and both lovely!

Domaine Gayda Viognier 2009 IGP Pays d'Oc
100% Viognier, aged on its lees for 6 months before bottling. As with the Chemin de Moscou red I reviewed recently, this wine is a blend of grapes sourced from two distinct Languedoc and Roussillon terroirs - in this case, from limestone soil in Haut Minervois and schitous slopes in the Fenouilledes, so yet another example of new-world thinking, combined with old-world terroir. The colour is a bright, limpid straw/gold, with just a hint of green. On opening, there is a faint whiff of banana, which very quickly dissipates - perhaps just a touch of reduction, as is often the case with screwcapped wines. Once that is out of the way, we are left with a rather attractive combination of peaches and apricot, orange blossom and other floral notes.

At this juncture, I am distracted - nay, overcome - by a strong and rather off-putting odour of cheap Lynx deodorant, wafting down into my dining room from upstairs, accompanied by the incessent din of American Indie/Punk/Thrash/Screaming blaring out of Alex's hi-fi system. Hardly conducive to peaceful contemplation and vinous navel-gazing. Shame I can't close the door, but there are (as usual) too many wine boxes in the way! Never mind - with a bit of luck, he'll be off out with his mates, any minute now.....

Anyway, back to the wine. It's a really smooth, rather attractive expression of Viognier, with soft apricot and peach flavours countered by just the right amount of zesty citrus fruit and even a hint of stony minerality. The 6 months this wine has spent sitting on its fine, yeasty lees seems to have polished away any rough edges and tempered the tendency to pithinesss that can occasionally afflict wines made from this variety. There's a faint whiff of garrigue herbs on the nose, which also manifests on the palate, but just enough to add a little complexity and interest to a wine that definitely majors on fruit. In fact, this is another wine from Domaine Gayda which calls on new world practices and techniques, whilst very definitely speaking loud and proud of it's Languedoc (and Roussillon) origins. A really nice wine, which just happens to provide an excellent match for this evening's Thai chicken curry, and excellent value at £8.99 from Cambridge Wines.

Les Vignes de l'Arque Saveur d'Automne 2009 IGP Pays d'Oc Doux
This is the last of my sample bottles from a grower whose wines used to feature very prominently on the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines list - and will do so again, very soon. Also made from 100% Viognier, grown in a vinous backwater of the Gard, west of the ancient town of Uzes, and aged in oak for around 9 months. Clear, pale straw colour, with orange glints. A delightfully intense nose, with complex aromas including apricot, orange, fresh grapes, honey and root ginger, with the perfume heightened even more by a strong floral/rose element, akin to turkish delight. The barrel ageing has imbued the wine with a subtle note of oak vanillin. The flavours are moelleux, rather than full-on sweet, with the inherent richness countered by really good acidity and a touch of grape tannin. There is a core of rich, ripe, densely concentrated fruit and a touch of spicy, alcoholic warmth, whilst the finish offers a final flourish of tropical fruit and candied citrus. The oak is beautifully judged and integrates seamlessly with the fruit, making for a wine of considerable complexity. In fact, a little goes a long way, but fortunately this wine is perfectly capable of sitting in the fridge for a good many days after opening, during which it just gets better and better. Another lovely Languedoc sticky.


Vinogirl said...

The Gayda sounds really nice. There are a couple of decent Viogniers made in Napa, they always make a nice change from SB or Chenin blanc in summer.

Leon Stolarski said...

Not sure if I've had a Californian Viognier, but I imagine the variety would be well suited to some of the cooler regions out there.