Arizona, Arizona Terroir, Arizona Viognier, arizona wine, Arizona Wineries, az wine, AZwine, James Callahan, Pillsbury Vineyard, Rune, Rune Winery, Sonoita, viognier, White wine, White Wines, wild yeast fermentation, wild-fermented, Willcox, Willcox Bench, willcox wines
I like Rune. It’s good quality wine from the high Arizona desert, with some (okay, a lot of) cool geeky stuff going on in the wine-making process. James Callahan is an unabashed wine geek like myself. We’ve reviewed his Grenache before, and I’ve podcasted with him once before that… and, for that matter, we recorded a second podcast with his new intern which has joined with Rune and Pillsbury for the summer, which isn’t up yet. But I digress. Let’s drink the 2013 Viognier. (Sidenote: again, look at this awesome label. At some point I’d love to photograph it AT Rainbow Bridge. Someday…)
The Wine: The grapes for the 2013 Viognier came from the Pillsbury Vineyard, out on the Willcox bench. Steel-fermented, this wine gains it’s complexity not only because of the rich nature of Arizona Viognier because of how it was fermented. This vintage is a blend of four different yeasts; three were commercial yeasts, while the fourth was a wild yeast from the grapes themselves, native to the Willcox Bench. It also was aged on just a little bit of neutral French oak. The winemaker was James Callahan. It’s a friendly bumblebee yellow in the glass. (Again, for those who are new here, I get my color descriptors from here.)
The Nose: Arizona Viognier has always been about those aromatics, and this wine has them in spades. Rich creamy peaches and apricots intermingle with acacia blossoms, gardenia, a tinge of lemon, and vanilla spice. As the wine sits in the open, notes of honeydew melon also emerge, along with smoky figs and sandalwood.
The Palate: The palate of this wine is quite rich, and it’s a decidedly a full-bodied expression of this varietal. Figs and honey intermingle with bright peach and creamy apircot notes, with a dash once again of citrus. Honeydew melon, acacia, and vanilla return as well. The finish is long and savory, with honey, fig, and slight vanilla notes, with just a slight twinge of that limestone minerality prominant in Willcox whites, and lasts for about 25-28 seconds. The flavors intermingle with one another in a pleasantly complex way that is quite harmonious, and there’s just enough acidity to make your mouth water. As the wine opens, the wine becomes less floral, and more fruity. It’s just really intereting to watch the progression.
Pairing: I feel like this wine would be delicious with Thanksgiving dinner, whether you take a carnivorous or vegetarian path. Take a bottle home to meet the folks.
Impression: This wine is among the best expressions of Viognier in Arizona i’ve ever tasted, I think. The use of wild yeast was a very nice touch here, adding a great deal of complexity. It’s a thinking viognier, a wine nerd’s viognier. I like wines that make me think. If you’re looking for a wine that’s simple and loud and not subtle, this will not be the wine for you. Buf you’re looking for a wine that will sit and make you ponder, this is something you will enjoy.
This wine is a philosopher. She spends long days and nights sitting, and staring at the landscape, pondering beginnings and endings. She stares into the face of the cosmos, and takes notes. She’s wrapped up against the cold desert night as she watches the stars wheel overhead while the barn owls on the Willcox bench cry out in the crispness of October. She keeps the secrets of the cosmos in a beaten moleskin notebook which she’s carried around with her since she was 15 years old and first met the works of Descartes. She’s come to the high deserts to think about the nature of the cosmos… and she’s close to cracking the code. She dabbles in botany, in geology, and in astronomy.