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Viognier is one of those interesting Rhone whites that does well in Arizona; I do feel it is on my top five list of whites for Arizona. This varietal Viognier, blended with 20% Chenin Blanc, was made by Page Springs Cellars from grapes which came from the new Deep Sky Vineyard, run by the Asmundson Family, located on the Willcox Bench. They began their vineyard experience in Argentina, and still do wines there as well. This means that they essentially are working nonstop in one vineyard or the other the whole year around.
The Asmundson family believes that “80% of the wine is made in the field;” namely that great wine begins with great fruit and great fruit requires a lot of attention. The family has 15,000 vines in several varietals: two clones of Grenache, Mourvedre, two clones of Syrah, Petit Sirah, Counoise, Viognier, and Malbec. In 2014 they harvested over 65 tons of fruit and sold grapes to some of the bbest-known wineries in the state. The vineyard and their personal label (I’ve not tried any of their own labeled wines yet, though I look forward to trying them eventually) gets its name from the dark night skies on the Willcox Bench–which are quite spectacular.
The Wine: As mentioned above, the viognier in this wine was blended with 20% Chenin Blanc, coming from Fort Bowie vineyards, to cut down some of the intensity of the nose on this wine. It was aged in neutral french oak.
The Nose: The first impression of this wine is of super intense tropical fruit: mangos, pineapples, and coconut, with more subtle fruit notes of pear, apircot, and a hint of green apple. These fruit notes intermingle with equally intense floral notes of jasmine, gardinia, and white roses. A dash of vanilla rounds out the bouquet.
The Palate: There’s a lot of fruit on the palate of this wine too; a medley of peaches and vanilla cream, mixed with apples, mangos, and more starfruit. Herbaceous notes of sage, and thyme intermingle with lavender, gardenia, and a subtle hint of saffron. There’s a nice bit of acidity here, making this wine quite food friendly.
Pairing: Pair this with an ahi tuna steak with a mango-based sauce and rice, or a vegan breakfast taco.
Impression: The 2013 Deep Sky Viognier is a blonde track runner and geologist whom sunbathing on the ancient tropical coast of the Pedregosa sea that once covered most of Arizona. She is sipping piña coladas under an ancient sun.
For more information about the Deep Sky Vineyards themselves, and the Asmundson’s label, check out http://deepskyvineyard.com/about/