Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tertulia Cellars Viognier - 2005

Ryan Raber, Tertulia Cellars' winemaker, and I were classmates a few years ago at the Viticulture and Enology Center at Walla Walla Community College. I caught up with Ryan again just as he had finished his first crush and was putting the finishing touches on a new winery. Tertulia Cellars emphasizes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Viognier.

At first I couldn't help but notice Ryan's attractive logo on his business card - a circle of people holding hands. The logo on the label gives us an idea about the winery's name. Tertulia is a Spanish word meaning a social gathering of friends. That's what happens when there are great bottles of wine around - friends gather.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to sip on a large glass of Tertulia Cellars Viognier. I sat back and pondered this glass of wine -- if you've been a frequent visitor here, you know Viognier is one of my favorite whites. The nose was pleasant on this particular wine, but I wasn't picking up the usual heady pear aroma that I find in other Viogniers. Instead, the Tertulia had more of a honeysuckle and orange blossom nose. And with the first two sips I couldn't pick up Viognier's typically dominant pear qualities. Instead my tastebuds discovered stone fruit --peaches and apricots -- and even a mineral quality, a little gray rock. The finish was full of citrus.

So what the heck was going on with this Viognier? I knew something else had to have been in the mix -- and I was right! The wine is 23% Roussanne.

During aging, the Viognier and Roussanne each took a rest on the lees, with Ryan stirring the lees weekly for 3 months before blending the juices. This was done in order to increase the mouth feel. I thought there was enough lively acidity going on, which makes for a great food wine. If you read my posts, you will also discover that I am very much into pairing wine with food. The Tertulia Cellars Viognier kept screaming at me to hurry up and roast a chicken, stuffing it with rosemary and garlic. But I didn't even have a chicken salad sandwich on me to keep it quiet! Which reminds me: I would definitely recommend to pack this wine in your next picnic basket. Cheers!

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