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Wine Blogging Wednesday 71 – Viognier, Where Rhone Meets Virginia – Showcasing The Potential of Virginia Wine

Today marks the second month of the Wine Blogging Wednesday comeback – the 71st monthly installment.   Our host for Wine Blogging Wednesday 71 is Tim Elliot of Wine Cast, and our theme this month is Rhones Not From The Rhone.  More specifically, we were charged with picking ‘any wine made from a variety best known in The Rhône but not made in that famous French region. It doesn’t matter if the wine is white, pink or red; still, sparkling or fortified. Whatever you choose, just needs to be made from primarily a Rhone grape and come from a region not in France.

Oh ouais! A great excuse to pop the cork on one of my favorite Viognier’s from my home state – which is producing amazing examples of this beauty from the Rhone – the Jefferson Vineyards 2009 Viognier.

Viognier is ‘the’ grape of the Condrieu region, located in the northern Rhone.   Many serious wine enthusiasts know Condrieu as home to the AOC within the AOC, Chateau-Grillet – that famous 9 acres single winery sanctuary to Chateau-Grillet, one of the more notable Viognier producers in the world.  By most accounts, Condrieu is considered the epicenter of Viognier, and I do tend to agree in terms of long-term age worthiness, but ~3,700 miles away, my home state of Virginia is also producing excellent examples of this varietal.  The Condrieu AOC has roughly 330 acres under Viognier vine, and Virginia currently has 149 acres under Viognier vine (according to 2008 Commercial Grape Report).

One winery in particular that is producing a great example of Virginia Viognier is Jefferson Vineyards.  Unlike it’s peers from Condrieu, Virginia Viognier (for the most part) isn’t jacked up on heavy oak, so more of the white flowers, honeysuckle, peach, and apricot components shine.

The Jefferson Vineyards property, located in Charlottesville, VA, spans 650 acres, 25 of which are under vine.  Jefferson Vineyard’s is located right smack dab in the middle of Virginia and Revolutionary history, located just one mile south of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and near James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highlands.   Two hundred years ago, the land currently occupied by Jefferson Vineyards was home to vineyards planted by Jefferson wine friend, Philip Mazzei.  Although the vines Mazzei planted (some say for Jefferson) resulted in no commercial success, the land is rich with history.

Sign outside Jefferson Vineyards entrance - Colle, Philip Mazzei's estate adjacent to Jefferson's Monticello.

Of particular note about Jefferson Vineyards is a valuable piece of intellectual property – the signature that adorns this bottle, ‘Th. Jefferson.’  Jefferson Vineyards is the only winery in the world that is able to use Thomas Jefferson’s signature on their bottles.  (Shameless self-promotion:  Read more about Thomas Jefferson’s wine experiences in a previous series, ’30 Days of Thomas Jefferson On Wine‘)

“We grow grapes and we make wine.  That’s all we do, and we do it very well.” ~ Jefferson Vineyards

Jefferson 2009 Viognier, $24 – Like WBW70, I am on the road again for this month’s WBW, so I was ended up pairing the star of tonight’s WBW with room service – a bland salad with shrimp.  Gold colored in the glass, this wine is like a floral, apricot, and mineral threesome with the mineral relegated mainly to watching.  The apricot is overwhelming and dominates the wine, in a good way, with hints of peach Sweetarts in the mouth.   Weighty texture with light apricot syrup on the finish.  Interesting to note about this wine, in looking back at my tasting notes for this wine, every bottle of this wine that I’ve made notes on I’ve picked up a pronounced nutmeg component in the glass after when emptied.

A big ol virtual hat tip to Tim at Wine Cast for hosting this month – excellent topic!  For those attending Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Charlottesville, you’ll no doubt taste a lot of Viognier during your time in Virginia!


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