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As I’ve mentioned before, Deep Sky Vineyard is focused upon astronomical themes for their label, and the 2013 Aurora Viognier is no exception to the rule. (I always felt that the names of the Aurora and Nebula should have been switched, but that’s just me.) I picked this bottle up in the tasting room on my birthday in their gorgeous new tasting room and winery in Sonoita, Arizona. Naturally, I decided that as befitting the theme for these wines, I had to drink and photograph this vintage during a spectacular astronomical phenomenon: the Gemenid meteor shower. (After all, the last time I saw an Aurora in Arizona was in March 2001, which was ironically on the same night I got interested in wine in the first place…)
The Wine: I was not able to acquire a tech sheet for this vintage, so some of the following is guesswork. What I do know: the grapes of this vintage were sourced from the Deep Sky Vineyard in the Willcox AVA, and the wine was made in the Aridus facility, likely by Rob Hammelman. (James Callahan is the new winemaker for Deep Sky, for the record.) I am guessing that this wine was fermented in neutral oak, and aged in stainless steel. (I could be wrong, if I find out one way or the other I shall amend this post.) I also suspect this wine may have gone through a partial Malolactic fermentation. Like most Arizona Viognier, the 2013 Aurora is a medium-bodied white; blonde in color.
The Nose: The nose of the 2013 Aurora opens with notes of honey, apricot, pear, white peach, acacia, gardenia, intermingling with aromas of vanilla and brown sugar. Honey is to be expected in an aged Arizona Viognier, I have noticed.
The Palate: Notes of Peach, apricot, honeydew, honey, apple, pear, and orange peel intermingle with notes of white tea on the palate of the 2013 Aurora. This wine is medium-bodied, with medium acidity. The finish is filled with the typical minerality I associate with the Willcox AVA, intermingling with what honestly reminds me of Danish butter cookies, apricot, and white tea, lasting for 46 seconds.
Pairing: Viognier is a very friendly wine for the holidays; it will pair well with duck, turkey, and honey-baked ham. The 2013 Aurora is no exception to this. For a vegetarian or vegan pairing, a low-spice Pad Thai dish with lots of coconut and curry would also work quite well.
Impressions: The 2013 Aurora is a good example of what I could almost call (after tasting many of them) the Standard Arizona Viognier. Viognier tends to age relatively well here in Arizona (you can hold onto bottles for a while), but I feel that 2013 Vintages will be nearing their peak in the next year or so. Drink or hold this vintage, but hold it no more than another 2 years or so.
Personified, this vintage is like a blonde scientist, her eyes glued to the telescope, stirring her spiced chai in the cold of a mountain night.