More on Viognier from Israel

I have been down at the big city for a couple of days. We went to Tel Aviv to help celebrate the wedding of a young couple, introduced to each other by our daughter, Shirah. They are young Israelis born in the USA and France so it was a UN wedding party. It was a musical event with the groom singing and his sister performing a folk song as well. The band was absolutely fantastic. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center, a hotel which I can recommend without hesitation. The cleanliness, design of the room, including the lighting, friendliness and helpfulness of all the staff, food at breakfast, and the exercise facility (called Holmes Place) in the building were given high ratings by us. In fact, Nurit, my wife, gave the hotel a six star rating. But I digress from the subject of this blog.

In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to taste and compare the Viognier from three wineries and from one of them, from two different years. I would like to give you my opinion on these wines. First, let it be understood that I love Viognier wine and have done so since I first lifted it to my lips several years ago. I have done a bit of reading from which I will now give you a short summary. Firstly, this grape is not easy to grow despite being drought resistant, as it is subject to suffer from powdery mildew, a dread fungus which can destroy the crop. It has a tendency to develop a high sugar content and thus, a high alcohol level. This may be related to why it is referred to as possibly having “vinous flavors”, whatever that is. The fruit usually has very deep color, but is low in acidity. It is hard to believe that in the late 1960s it approached “endangered variety” status, when only less than 35 acres remained planted in all of France, its homeland. Since that time, it has gained popularity and is planted in thousands of acres worldwide. It is described in Professional friends of Wine very informative website, as having a “potentially powerful, rich, and complex aroma that often seems like overripe apricots mixed with orange blossoms or acacia……and a creamy mouthfeel.” In my opinion, when it is done well, this wine is bursting with fragrant fruity flavors.

With that said, I will now give you my opinion of the Viognier varietals produced here in Israel. First, I must say that the only 2009 wine that I would advise you to buy and drink is the wild yeast fermentation Dalton Reserve Viognier. It has a bit of the fruity flavoring described above, as opposed to those from the Golan Heights Winery version, which is, like Dalton’s partially aged in oak. The 2009 Viognier from Galil Heights Winery also falls flat, lacking what their 2010 vintage initially attracted me. But let me round out this post by saying that the Galil Heights Winery 2010 Viognier explodes with fruity flavors when you put it in your mouth. It is everything that is good about this variety. But remeber that it is to be consumed now and not saved in your wine cellar for drinking next year or thereafter. ENJOY!


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