Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Victor Hugo Vineyards Viognier (2009)

"God made only water, but man made wine."  Those words were written by Victor Hugo, a famous French poet, playwright, and human rights activist.  Little did Hugo know that, nearly one hundred years after his death, that man would be making wine in his name.  The man -- actually a husband and wife, Leslie and Vic Roberts -- began the Victor Hugo Winery in the Paso Robles region of California.  The winery grows its grapes in the Templeton Hills Vineyard, which is the estate vineyard.  Victor Hugo Winery grows a wide range of grapes, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Viognier grapes.

The Viognier grape is a white wine grape.  The origin of the grape is unknown; however, legend says that the grape dates back to the Roman Empire.  More specifically, they say that, in 281 A.D., the Roman Emperor, Probus, brought the grape to what would eventually become France.   Farmers planted the vines and cultivated the grapes for centuries and, for a good part of that time, the grape was fairly common.  In more recent times, the cultivation of Viognier has decreased.  In fact, the grape is cultivated today primarily in the Northern Rhône region in the Condrieu appellation.  While cultivation of the grape decreased in France, it has increased around the world, including about one dozen states in the United States.   

Viognier has definitely taken root in the Paso Robles AVA in California, where Victor Hugo produces its own Viognier wine.  The label states that the 2009 Paso Robles Vigonier is an estate wine.  The grapes were hand harvested, whole clusters were pressed and then barrel-fermented and aged in Hungarian oak for 5 months.  Aromas of honeysuckle and ripe apricot with hings of almond blossom.  Goes with soft ripe cheeses,  spicy Asian dishes, scallops, oysters and lobsters.

The Victor Hugo Viognier pours a yellowish, goldish color.  The wine has aromas of flowers, honey and melon.  This wine has a lighter body, reminscent more of a Pinot Grigio than a Chardonnay.  The melon and honey flavors carry through to the taste of the wine, providing an interesting parallel to wines such as Vouvray.

Wines such as this Viognier are best paired with lighter dishes, as well as seafood dishes.  I paired this wine with the Sauteed Sheephead, Savage Boleks Style, because I thought the wine would complement the oysters and fish used in that dish.

We found this wine in Orange Beach, Alabama during our vacation. It sold for $21.99 a bottle. I am not sure about the distribution of this wine, because I have not seen it around where I live.


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