Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Grape Creek Viognier - A Delicious Wine from Texas Hill Country

Grape Creek Viognier Credit: Grape Creek Vineyards

In January, on a road trip through Texas, I managed a two day visit to the Texas Hill Country, including the area's biggest town, Fredericksburg. While there region abounds in tourist attractions such as the LBJ boyhood home and ranch, Enchanted Rock - the nation’s second-largest batholith, and the colorful village of Luckenbach, made famous by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, a big part of its tourist draw is its 30 wineries, thought to produce some of best wines in the state.

While I spent most of my time in the Hill Country at places other than the wineries, I did get a chance to sample some at the Cabernet Grille, not only one of Fredericksburg's most upscale eateries. but also one that serves Texas wines exclusively. The restaurant delights in letting patrons compare single grape varietals in flights of three, 4-ounce pours. Being a fan of Viognier, I chose to sample a trio of the white wine varietal that had been reduced to a mere 40 acres in the late 1960s but is now making a valiant comeback in wine regions around the world.

Included in the flight was a Viognier by McPherson Cellars, Pedernales Cellars and  Grape Creek Vineyards. Of the three, I preferred the Grape Creek by far, so much so I managed to get a hold of another bottle of the 2015 vintage for a more concentrated experience. Viola! There again were the lovely floral notes, the dry yet honey-flavored hints of apricot, peach and citrus with a bit of minerality thrown in for good measure. As to drinkability, the Grape Creek Viognier can be enjoyed by itself and, of course, also paired with food like shellfish and roasted chicken. With an exuberant yellow color, the wine has a rich creamy texture and  a long finish with a delightful staying power.

Billed as a red wine lover's white wine, the Viognier varietal is thought to be Texas signature white grape along with the red grape Tempranillo. Oddly enough, Viognier is also Virginia's white signature grape, even though the climate of the two states is vastly different.

The 2015 Grape Creek Viognier comes in with 13.7% alcohol and a price tag around $27. I'm not alone in my appreciation of this fine and tasty wine. The 2015 Grape Creek Viognier came home with a double gold medal from the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. If you've never before tried a Viognier, Grape Creek is a good starting point. If you're familiar with and even very experienced with the grape, you should enjoy Grape Creek's version, which I think captures the very essence of the grape.

Even though Grape Creek Vineyards is one of Texas top producers, it doesn't distribute its wines at wine or liquor stores or supermarkets. Its wines, however, are available by the bottle and case online as well as through its wine club. Recently, the winery obtained the rights to ship to Pennsylvania so, if you'd like to test my palate and judgement, order a bottle and see what you think. The winery's website is Salut!

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