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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some New Rhone Whites - August 2, 2006

We tasted last night (8/2/06) Some New Rhone Whites:

  1. Pierre Olivier Viognier VdPd'Oc (12.5%) 2004: Light gold color; pleasant simple pear/
    Viognier bit stoney nose; tart simple/vapid light pear/Viognier slight stoney flavor;
    very short no fruit slight stoney finish; a simple/vapid wine not worth $8.00
  2. Domaine de Caillan Viognier VdPd'Oc (MeBaD; 12.5%) Guilhem L'Epine/Bessan 2003:Med.
    dark gold color; deep/ripe peach/pear/Viognier fragrant/perfumed some Condrieu/minerally
    nose; rich/ripe peach/pear/Viognier bit oaked slight Condrieu/mineral somewhat bitter
    flavor; med. bit metallic rather ripe/peach/pear/Viognier some bitter some minerally
    finish; a good Condrieu look-alike at a very attractive price. $12.80
  3. Jean-LucColombo Viognier LaViolette VdPd'Oc (12.5%) 2004: Med.dark gold color; attractive
    fragrant/perfumed/floral 7Up/appley/Riesling-like/honeysuckle some peach/Viognier slight
    stoney/minerally nose; soft/lush ripe/pear/peach/honeysuckle slight stoney/bitter flavor;
    med. rather bitter/stoney ripe/rich/pear/honeysuckle/floral finish; lots of ripeness
    but some austerity on the palate; maybe the best Pd'Oc Viogniers I've had; fairly
    priced at $17.00
  4. DomaineGeorgesVernay Viognier VdPdesCollinesRhodaniennes LaPied de Samson (12.5%)
    : Med.gold color; lovely fragrant/floral/perfumed pear/minerally/Viognier nose;
    tart/acid bit lean ripe/floral/pear/Viognier some minerally flavor; med.short bit lean/
    austere peach/pear/Viognier slight minerally/Condrieu finish; not Condrieu but a
    reasonable look-alike; fairly priced at $25.00
  5. Isenhower Snapdragon 55% Roussanne/ 45% Viognier ColumbiaVlly (14.3%;
    www.IsenhowerCellars.com) 2005
    : Light gold color; attractive fragrant/floral/honeysuckle
    slight earthy/minerally lovely nose; fat lush/ripe off-dry(?) very floral/perfumed/
    honeysuckle slight earthy/dusty flavor; soft/fat off-dry/ripe/floral/honeysuckle finish;
    bit underacid/unstructured but lots of lovely floral/honeysuckle character. Fairly
    priced at $21.00
  6. CougerCrestWnry Viognier WallaWalla (14.3%) 2004: Med.gold color; slight SO2 some bacon
    fat/smoked hot dog/BarBQue intense floral/Viognier/peach very attractive/bizarre nose;
    soft strong smoked hot dog/bacon fat/pungent bit smokey/oak ripe/floral/lush/Viognier/
    peach lovely/ripe/lush flavor; long pungent/smoked hot dog/bacony very strong/ripe/
    Viognoer/peach finish; a rather bizarre rendition of Viognier but quite an interesting
    wine at a good price. $20.00
  7. SanSakanaCllrs Viognier BrokenLegVnyd/AndersonVlly (14.6%; www.SanSakana.com) 2005:
    Light gold color; lovely pear/Viognier/floral/fragrant slight herbal/OldSpice/7Up/very
    perfumed/spicy bit minerally/stoney very attractive nose; tart very spicy rather pear/
    Viognier/minerally slight herbal/earthy perfumed flavor; med.long quite spicy bit
    minerally lovely/floral/pear/Viognier finish; rather atypical Calif Viognier, more like
    a WashState/Condrieu blend; great structure & acidity; has a very exotic spiciness;
    lovely/exotic Viognier. $34.00
  8. SanSakanaCllrs Viognier Catie'sCorner/RussianRiverVlly (14.4%) 2005: Light gold color;
    more flamboyant very fragrant/perfumed/peachy/ripe/Viognier lovely nose; soft rather
    floral/perfumed/peachy/pear/Viognier attractive/aromatic flavor; long ripe/peach/pear/
    Viognier/floral finish; lots of bright/floral/Viognier varietal character. $38.00
  9. Beringer NapaVlly Viognier (14.1%; www.Beringer.com) 2004: Pale yellow color; simple
    pear/Viognier light intensity nose; soft/simple light pear/Viognier flavor; med.short
    light pear/Viognier finish; varietally correct but pretty dull/simple; must have been
    cropped at 10 tons/acre; an "Oakland" wine... there's no there there!!. $14.00
  10. BlackBart's Bride StageCoachVnyd/NapaVlly (14.2%; www.VeraisonWine.com;
    48% Viognier, 35% Chardonnay and 17% Marsanne) 2004
    : Med.gold color; attractive floral/
    fragrant bit appley/Chard slight toasty/oak slight earthy/Rhonish nose; soft rather
    charred/toasty/oak mostly Chard-like some floral/perfumed/earthy flavor; very long
    tobaccoy/toasty/charred/Fr.oak some floral/perfumed finish; more like an exotic/floral/
    perfumed Chard than a Rhone Blanc. Pretty pricey at $50.00
  11. Curran SantaYnezVlly/SantaBarbaraCnty GrenacheBlanc (14.1%; www.CurranWines.com)
    : Light yellow color; very fragrant/aromatic/perfumed/Viognier-like/Riesling-like
    heaps of fruit nose; soft very floral/aromatic very Riesling/Viognier-like pretty
    flavors; long soft/fat very floral/perfumed/aromatic finish; a pretty/girly-girl white
    that out-Viogniers many Viogniers. Attractive price at $22.00
  12. Calera Viognier Mt.Harlan (1.96 tons/acre; SaH: 27.4%; 677 cs; 14.5%) 2004: Med.yellow
    color; slight toasty/oak very fragrant/perfumed floral/pear/peach/Viognier slight
    chalky/minerally nose; tart rather minerally tipe/pear/peach/Viognier/spicy quite
    interesting/exotic flavor; long spicy/minerally/chalky ripe/lush/floral pear/peach/
    Viognier lovely finish; less DollyParton than early ones; beautiful Viognier that has
    more structure than most. $38.00
  13. ZacaMesa SantaYnezVlly Viognier (EG; 14.5%; www.ZacaMesa.com) 2005: Light gold color;
    classic fragrant/floral/pear/peach/Viognier very perfumed/aromatic nose; soft correct/
    Viognier/pear/peach/floral slightly dilute flavor; med.short classic/perfumed/pear/peach/
    Viognier finish; a lovely classic Viognier nose but a bit dilute and tastes overcropped
    on the palate. Very nice for $16.00
  14. Consilience Viognier SantaBarbaraCnty (15.6%) 2005: Med.light gold color; very ripe/lush
    peachy/pear/Viognier quite perfumed/floral/fragrant nose; soft/fat rich/lush very ripe/
    peachy/Viognier slightly hot flavor; long very ripe/lush/floral/peachy/Viognier finish;
    a bit on the fat/overripe side but carries the alcohol well. Fairly priced at $23.00
  15. St.Nicholas Commandaria DessertWine (15%) Matured&Bttld by Etko Ltd, Limassol/Cyprus
    : Med.brown color; intense raisened/pruney lightweight PX bit oxidized/maderiezed
    very complex nose; tart very sweet madierized very raisened/pruney flavor; very long/
    lingering raisened/maderized quite sweet complex finish; very exotic dessert wine like
    a lightweight PX and a Malmset Madeira combo. Great price at $17.00

And the same ol'/same ol' from the BloodyPulpit:
  1. SanSakanaCellars: A new wnry for me (www.SanSakana.com). One of the principles, Bettina
    Briz, was coming to SantaFe a few weeks ago and oferred to bring samples of their
    current releases. Haven't yet tried the Syrah, but I liked these two Viogniers quite
    a lot. The Catie'sCorner was attractive ripe Calif Viognier. But I really liked the
    BrokenLeg for a very exotic spiciness it showed; a very unusual Calif Viognier.
  2. Calera Viognier: I've followed JoshJensen's Viognier from the very start, when he first
    showed it at the TasteOfVail in the mid-'90's. In fact, it deserves the credit for the
    invention of "DollyPartonViognier". There was a panel on Viognier, which included Josh,
    BobLindquist, John Alban, and one other. In the tasting I was quite taken by Josh's
    Viognier for its big/ripe/lush/in-your-face/jiggly/silicone-laden character. In the
    question session, I asked Josh exactly how he went about creating a "DollyPartonViognier",
    with the appropriate hand-gestures, of course. It brought the house down and a new
    term entered the wine lexicon.
    Most of his early Viogniers were very much in that style. The more recent ones, of
    which this '04 may be the best, show more of a restrained/elegant character and much
    more structure. Big but without the jiggly/silicone character.
  3. BlackBart: Though it spoke mostly of Chard than anything; I actually liked this wine
    quite a lot; though not at $50. The finish and mouthfeel really made this wine.
    The NapaVlly seems like a pretty high-rent district to be growing Rhone white
    varietals unless you can make them of a quality that can compete w/ Condrieu. None
    thus far strike me as of that calibre. Probably they should stick to $500/btl Cabs
    and let other areas grow these varietals where they can do so more economically.


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