I’m a Rhone girl. That’s a fact. I love Rhone-style wines and I think that winemakers who are truly focused on those varietals and understand where in California these grapes grow best, craft some of the most beautiful wines. California is no Rhone. Indeed, our West Coast, New World, expression is much more different than what you’ll taste from France. And I love that. I love that we have something that is simultaneously etched in wine history, but uniquely our own.
Charles McKahn, winemaker and co-owner of McKahn Family Cellars is one such winemaker whose passion is infectious. Though his family’s winery is based in Livermore, he’s used his years of experience working in wineries all over California to understand the variations of terroir and sources his Rhone grapes from regions that both grow quality fruit and showcase distinct character.
About the Wine: The McKahn Family Cellars 2016 Viognier is made of 100% Viognier grapes harvested from Catie’s Corner Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley AVA. The grapes were whole cluster pressed straight to tank where they cold-settled for one day. The primary lees were racked off and inoculated with yeast, then sent to neutral barrels for barrel fermentation. The wine was fermented to dryness in barrel and aged for six months prior to bottling.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the McKahn Family 2017 Viognier and breathe in beautiful stone fruit aromas: peaches, apricots, nectarines. On the pour, this Viognier is very clear, but settles into the glass with a very light, but very bright, yellow-straw tint. This wine is extremely fragrant straight-away, emitting scents of those stone fruits as well as flowers, honey, and a bit of nut-buttery roundnesss. Swirl, and enliven the acidity, get a sense of beachy-sandy minerality as well as a kind of wet-rock minerality.
The palate of the McKahn Family 2017 Viognier has a round exterior, but a sharp acidity interiorly that pierces through and through. The backbone is a light textural element that lends itself to a few savory notes in this utterly floral wine. Dominant flavors are of popcorn kernels, wet rock, orange peel, pollen, white floral perfume, pear skin, and just a hint of that white nectarine. You’re left with just a touch of texture along the interior of the cheeks and a lingering tingle of citrus zest on the tongue.
Food Pairing: I paired the McKahn Family 2017 Viognier with a slightly spicy burrito bowl thinking that the Mexican-inspired flavors along with a bit of heat would balance out this light, floral white wine. And I was right. The freshness of the tomatoes brought out the brightness and acidity in the wine; the subtle use of spice actually highlighted those floral notes; and the almost creamy texture of the refried beans showcased the subtle dry, textural backbone of the wine while simultaneously playing nicely with that tingly-zesty finis.
More Info: I received the McKahn Family Cellars 2016 Viognier as a sample for review. (Cheers!) Retail: $32. For more information about McKahn Family Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the McKahn Family Cellars website.
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