On a recent visit with Steve and Brian at Crux Winery, I was reminded of how and why their wine is so amazing. Of course I couldn’t leave my visit without a bottle (or two, or three, or four…). One of the stand-outs, for me, is their 2014 Viognier. It’s unlike any other Viognier I’ve come across in taste, texture…and sight.
About the Wine: Crux Winery Viognier is made from 95% Viognier grapes harvested from Hoot Owl Creek Vineyard and 5% Grenache Blanc grapes harvested from Catie’s Corner Vineyard, both of which are located in the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma County.
WARNING: Crux wines are unfiltered and unfined: natural sediment may develop in the bottle.
I actually think this is a cool feature — mostly visually (you can see some sediment in the photo above), as those little floating pieces of grape debris aren’t even noticeable on the palate.
Flavor Profile: Aromas are classic, fruit-forward Viognier: sweet apple, soft pear, with a hint of tropical stone fruits (I’m thinking of the subtlety of guava or papaya), rounded out with the essence of honeysuckle. So in your brain, you may be prepped for a classic, fruit-forward Viognier, since that’s what your nose has told you. But I’m telling you, that is not the case.
There’s no blast of acidity or rush of fruit as you take your first sip. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. From start to finish the texture of the wine is quite smooth, as if coating the tongue in the most lightest of creams possible. Those fruits you smelled on the pour are certainly present on the palate, but I would call them secondary flavors. They walk together, but a little behind, the primary flavors that, I would argue, include hints of vanilla, soft nuts (perhaps cashews), and even a bit of green herbaceousness. Don’t get me wrong, this is a light-bodied wine for sure, but with that addition of Grenache Blanc, this traditionally light, bright, if not flamboyant, varietal, has a bit more body, a bit more structure. It’s refined in its aromatics both on the nose and the palate, which, for me, was a pleasant surprise.
The finish, if you’re paying attention, adds a bit of intrigue. It is here that a bit of acidity kicks in, lining just the perimeter of the tongue, leaving a lingering heat that is, somehow, simultaneously warming and refreshing.
NOTE: For the best experience of Crux Viognier, do not over-chill or you will lose these subtle complexities. (Recommendation: around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Food Pairing: Too greedy to share my Crux wine with anyone but a true wine-lover, I saved my Viognier for a date night at home with my partner in wine crime. That evening we paired the wine with seared halibut in a coconut-curry broth seasoned with tri-colored peppers and garnished with fresh herbs, served with a side of sticky Jasmine rice.
The creaminess of the coconut broth and the soft, sticky texture of the rice did well to enhance that smooth, round, almost nutty texture of the Viognier. Meanwhile, the subtle fruit aromatics delicately balanced out the heat in the dish.
Was this the perfect pairing? Well I certainly enjoyed it, but I’d be willing to try other dishes as well — I’m thinking a light seafood risotto, or pasta Alfredo. Whatever you decide, I would encourage you to chose a light(er) protein that has enough presence, but not a strong personal flavor, to subtly hold its own alongside this intricate wine (chicken breast, halibut, scallops would all work well) — trust me, you don’t want to miss a single element when drinking this Viognier. I’d also recommend including a cream-based element in your dish to enhance that bit of Grenache Blanc — it’s the bit that gives the wine its unique texture and the bit I quite enjoyed the most.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read my complete Crux Winery review, complete with my full list of recommended wines to try, please do so. Of course, for even more information about Brian, Steve, their wines, and to schedule your visit with the Crux Winery boys, visit the Crux Winery website.
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