20 June, 2012

One More #WBW78: Phoenix Ranch Viognier and Back Room Wines


Viognier is not normally a wine I seek out and I generally prefer it blended with other wonderful white Rhone varietals.  But this Wine Blogging Wednesday theme sent me to a local wine shop to find a good Viognier since I couldn't join the other Brix Chicks in their Viggy-fest.

And boy, did I luck out.  Dan Dawson, owner of Back Room Wines in downtown Napa, was pouring 2010 Phoenix Ranch Napa Valley Viognier as part of a “Wines Off The Grid” flight.  I loved it and took a bottle home.

Phoenix Ranch is a small production winery growing Viognier and Syrah in a single vineyard at the foot of Atlas Peak, one of the coolest parts of Napa Valley.  The Viognier is fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged sur lies for 10 months giving the wine some brightness and a little creamy finish without the oaky, sour, flatness other New World Viogniers can have sometimes.

The wine smelled of honey, green herbs (mint?), melon, the characteristic floral notes, and just a little funk.  In the mouth, it is very light bodied and lean with pretty stone and citrus fruit and honey undertones in the front and the characteristic floral notes in the mid palate.  As the wine warmed in the glass, peach flavors and smells became more prominent.  The wine is fresh, crisp, and bright without being acidic.  It played off beautifully with the sweetness and earthiness of the butternut squash-potato-leek soup I had for dinner.

Phoenix Ranch is the kind of winery that Back Room Wines specializes in—small, local producers, many of whom do not have their own tasting rooms.  The shop has been open for 10 years in downtown Napa and offers a quiet, individualized, educational tasting experience not normally experienced in the big Napa tasting rooms.  Neither tourists nor locals should pass it by and should instead duck in to explore and buy wines from off the beaten path.
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