Thursday, April 12, 2012

Colorado vs. Virginia with Terroirist.com (Viognier edition)

Last month, I found myself in Washington, D.C. for a work trip. On one of my free nights, I got together with David White, founder of Terroirist.com, and some members of his local tasting group for a Colorado vs. Virginia wine blind tasting. We opened 28 different bottles of wine from Colorado and Virginia, with a few ringers thrown in. We started the festivities with a flight of viogniers (12) followed by a slightly larger flight (16) of red blends. Today, I will post the results from the Viognier flight. Check back tomorrow for the red blend results.

All wines were wrapped in foil and randomly numbered. We poured two at a time, in no particular order (I've listed them here sequential for clarity). The group discussed each wine as they were tasted, but the identities were not revealed until all wines in a flight were tasted and voted on. The results revealed that while both regions have some work to do to be consider "world-class," they both produce some pretty good wine right now. The notes that follow are my own, though I do note the wines that were determined to be the best as voted on by the group. While I did take brief notes during the tasting, I somehow managed to not write down the vintages for the wines. C'est la vie!

Viognier flight:

Wine 1: Good peach/apricot flavors with lots of honeysuckle. It has nice acidity and good length, but lacking overall complexity that would make it an outstanding wine. Very Good/Excellent

Wine 2: This is an oak monster! While there are hints of peaches and dried apricot, the oak is at the forefront and almost tastes more like bourbon than wine. Average

Wine 3: There are some nice honey and apricot flavors, but this reminds me of grain alcohol. While the fruit is nice, it is way too hot to enjoy. Average

Wine 4: Cut grass, white peaches and honeydew melon. This is exceptionally tart more and reminds me more of a sauvignon blanc, but I like it. Good/Very Good

Wine 5: Melon, flowers and saltwater. It has nice acidity and good length, but is a bit green. Very Good

Wine 6: Fresh peaches, nice texture, good fruit, lots of acidity, but has a touch too much heat for it to be excellent. Good/Very Good

Wine 7: Oaky and slightly oxidized. Tastes like butterscotch with too much oak. It lacks fruit and is flabby Average/Good
Wine 8: This has a funky nose, is bitter and lacks of fruit. Poor

Wine 9: Way too much oak. It is hot, thin and disjointed with a slight VA problem. Poor/Average

Wine 10: This is flat on the nose, overly acidic and alcoholic with no fruit. Average

Wine 11: Lots of dried herbs and dried fruit. No acidity, flat with nothing there. It is like drinking bland cardboard (not in a TCA way) Average

Wine 12: This has a nice dried apricot and tropical fruit nose. The flavors to not match the aromas. Sadly, it is lacking in the mouth and a bit hot. Average/Good

Top Wines of the Night as voted by group:

#1: Wine 1
#2: Wine 5
#3 (tie): Wines 4 and 7

Wines unveiled:

Wine 1: Veritas Vineyard and Winery (Virginia)
Wine 2: Bookcliff Vineyards (Colorado)
Wine 3: Guy Drew Vineyards (Colorado)
Wine 4: Boulder Creek Winery (Colorado)
Wine 5: Barboursville Vineyards (Virginia)
Wine 6: Opolo Vineyards (California)
Wine 7: Tarara Winery, Honah Lee White (Virginia)
Wine 8: Grande River Vineyards (Colorado)
Wine 9: The Crusher (California)
Wine 10: Melville Vineyards and Winery, Verna's Viognier (California)
Wine 11: Yalumba (Eden Valley, Australia)
Wine 12: Tarara Winery, Viognier (Virginia)

Virginia definitely came out on top in this flight. My top two were the Veritas and the Barboursville, both from the commonwealth. The biggest surprise of the flight for me was the Melville. Now, I have not had this wine before, but I have tried their chardonnays and pinot noirs and thought that they were of much higher quality than this bottle. I don't want to make any excuses, but all of the Colorado wines traveled from Colorado to D.C the same day as the tasting. I don't know if they were showing any signs of travel shock, but only the Boulder Creek showed as well as I remember those wines tasting. Maybe it was the altitude (or lack thereof)... Either way, I think that this flight is evidence enough to suggest that Colorado's winemakers (and grape growers) need to pick up their efforts a little bit when it comes to viognier.

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