Today’s wine comes from a Hopland, California winery named Topel. We visited their tasting room in Healdsburg last fall and fell in love with a stellar Viognier. It’s an ancient grape with origins thought to be in Dalmatia known in present day as Croatia. While it used to primarily be grown in the French Rhone region, it is now grown in great quantities in Australia, the US and more specifically a region of Virginia. In fact, it was named Virginia’s state grape in 2011. Ironically, I went to Tarara winery in Virginia in February and was pleasantly surprised that it was so well known! The name Viognier is thought to have been derived from the French city of Vienne but other stories (including a wonderful Scottish fellow in another Sonoma tasting room told us the name means “the road to hell”). He was quick to say that it may point to the difficulty of growing the grape!
For such a perfume and floral-scented wine, it hardly seems that hell would come to mind! This particular vintage is from 2008, grapes grown in Mendocino, aged for one year in 10% French oak. I was immediately struck by the oak and light vanilla on the nose. It is not an oak bomb but it lends to being a rather full-bodied white. The perfume is spicy and strong and leaves a slightly buttery aftertaste. It is smooth and the spice and perfume diffuse the oak. Only 50 cases produced.
If you have the chance to visit Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma County, please stop by the Topel Tasting Room. What a fun and wonderful staff! The wine tasted like the love and care that is put into every single grape!