Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Without making a judgment on either style, because I love them both, here are some of Virginia's best Viogniers in types I identify as either "effusive" or "classic." Think of the effusive style as a big, wet kiss on the lips, while the classic style is a relationship requiring your attention (or maybe lack of attention while the wine spends 30 to 60 minutes in a decanter).


Cooper Vineyards Viognier 2008
Virginia, $21

I've tasted this wine three times recently, first the 2007 and the new vintage twice, and each time I've come away excited. The wine features exotic tropical aromas and flavors with bright acidity and a round, full mouth feel. Co-owner Geoffrey Cooper, a Richmond ophthalmologist, released his first wines only nine years ago from Louisa, near Lake Anna. He ages 10 percent of the wine in used barrels.

Commonwealth Wines: available in Virginia at Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe in Occoquan, Opera House Gourmet in Manassas, various Total Wine & More and Wegmans locations.

Veritas Vineyard and Winery Viognier 2007
Monticello, Virginia, $20

"Finally, Viognier!" I scribbled when I smelled this wine after six disappointing rivals. Its pale, slightly golden color yields to fresh, herbaceous and flowery aromas and mouth-filling, peachy flavors that won't quit. Tasted twice, with similar enthusiasm.

Kysela: available in the District at Calvert Woodley; available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, various Total Wine & More locations.

Horton Vineyards Viognier 2007
** 1/2
Orange County, Virginia, $20

The wine that started the Viognier craze is still one of Virginia's best. It's not particularly complex, but its peach blossom, apricot and jasmine flavors bring pure pleasure. Horton also makes an excellent sparkling Viognier, as delicious as it is novel.

DOPS in the District and Maryland: available in the District at Cairo Wine & Liquor, Circle Wine & Liquor, Harris Teeter stores, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor; on the list at Founding Farmers. Available in Maryland at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel; on the list at Sam's on the Waterfront in Annapolis. Service Distributing in Virginia: widely available, including at various Safeway, Total Wine & More, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and World Market locations; Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe in Occoquan.

Jefferson Vineyards Viognier 2008
Monticello, Virginia, $25

Elegantly packaged, this wine carries Jefferson's signature and hails from land near his estate at Monticello. This enticing wine is flowery with peach and jasmine flavors, and a hint of residual sweetness on the finish. Sold primarily to restaurants.

Country Vintner: on the list in the District at Kinkead's, various Clyde's restaurants, the Fairmont Hotel, the Hay-Adams Hotel.

King Family Vineyards Viognier 2007
Monticello, Virginia, $24

With 20 percent of the juice fermented and aged in barrel, this wine has an appealing fat texture and creamy tropical-fruit flavors.

Commonwealth Wines: available in Virginia at Olde Virginia Gourmet in Stafford, Opera House Gourmet in Manassas, Wegmans in Potomac Mills, Whole Foods Market in Arlington and Springfield.


Michael Shaps Viognier 2007
Monticello, Virginia, $35

Only 200 cases of this exceptional wine were produced, though winemaker-consultant Michael Shaps has had his hand in the production of many top-notch wines from the Charlottesville area over the past decade. This classically styled, textbook Viognier has depth and a subtlety that makes you take notice, once you're done flirting with the others.

Country Vintner: available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits; on the list at Hook, Occidental Restaurant, the Hay-Adams Hotel. Available in Virginia at Evo Bistro; on the list at Legal Seafoods in McLean.

Barboursville Vineyards Viognier Reserve 2007
** 1/2
Virginia, $22

This wine is reticent at first but opens nicely after an hour or so, with jasmine, peach and an impressive, lively acidity. Complex, intriguing and sophisticated, it probably will be better in a year or two.

Country Vintner: available in the District at Pearson's, Wine Specialist; on the list at Occidental Restaurant; on the list in Virginia at Clyde's Patowmack Farm.

Breaux Vineyards Viognier 2007
Virginia, $23

Every time I taste a Breaux Viognier, I think, "Nice, but a tad underripe." Then the aromas begin to emerge -- flowers, citrus and spice -- and I find myself enticed by springtime in a glass.

Service Distributing: available in Virginia at various Wegmans and Harris Teeter locations, Classic Wines in Great Falls, Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, Whole Foods Market in Fairfax; on the list at Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, Okra's Louisiana Bistro in Manassas, Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg.

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