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While down in Pierce and Dragoon last week, I managed to stop and peek at a couple of vineyards; one of which was Four Tails. Seeing the Viognier on those vines, ready to be harvested within the next month made me think of this bottle sitting in my cellar, and since it’s been a while since we looked at a Viognier… well, now seemed like the time. It’s a beautiful little vineyard, tucked away in the high desert near the old mining town of Pierce, down in Southeastern Arizona, at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains.
The Wine: The 2014 Pretty Girl Viognier is named for Bono (short for Bonita), the basset hound owned by the Four Tails crew; and she is prominently featured on the label. The grapes for this vintage came from Pillsbury Vineyard, rather than the estate (which I believe this will be the first viognier harvest from the estate this year…). It was barrel fermented with a selection of commercial yeasts (Vin 2000 and Rhone 4600, to be precise), and then aged in neutral french oak for one year. The wine was aged on the lees for 8 months, which gives it a distinctly fuller-bodied character. The wine seems a little more golden in color than some other viogniers I’ve encountered in the state as well. James Callahan was the winemaker.
The Nose: The biggest, most prominent scent I get off the nose of this wine is key lime. which intermingles with more subtle scents of orange blossom, acacia flowers, honey, and allspice. As the wine opens, more subtle notes of honeysuckle, peach, and green apple emerge from the glass.
The Palate: This viognier is a little more full-bodied than some other expressions in the state, which is likely partly due to barrel fermentation, but I’m also wondering if this wine was aged on the lees a little longer. Green apple, caramel, starfruit, and peach form the prominent notes in the fore palate of this wine. As the wine opens, notes of allspice, gardenia, and vanilla emerge. After the wine has been open for a while, I do finally detect that telltale signature of Willcox dust, but it is something you have to hunt for, and is exceedingly subtle. The finish of this wine is long and languid, lasting for 1 minute 45 seconds.
The Pairing: This will seem a bit heretical perhaps, but I would totally pair this wine with boneless hot wings, or with a Denver Omelette for brunch. A more traditional pairing for this wine would be garlic penne pasta with a bit of rosemary and thyme if you want to aim towards vegetarian), or quail.
Impressions: If you are a drinker of reds seeking to expand into whites, this is a good start. It’s a full-bodied viognier, which is pretty standard for Arizona. This second vintage from Four Tails leaves me very curious about upcoming wines, and I’m really looking forward to trying the first wines from their estate vineyard one of these days.
To me, this Viognier is decidedly masculine; a little muscular, blonde, and perhaps a little brusque with his words. He may come off as a dudebro, but if you actually sit with him, you learn he has a deep passion for Norse history. He spends some of the time in the gym, but that’s because he’s preparing for the vacation of a lifetime; he’s going to join a crew that’s sailing a replica Viking longship from Norway to Greenland.