Archive for ‘Viognier’

August 16, 2016

La Frenz Probyn-Eastman Viognier, 2015

La Frenz Probyn-Eastman Viognier, 2015Two people drank this bottle.  The first had one glass and called it a day: Oily.  Sweet.  Sweet and dense to the point of cloying, like condensed milk for key lime pie, like treacle.  Like you’ve wandered the midway and overdosed on caramel apples, cotton candy and glazed donut holes.  Stewed fruit like an overripe Riesling and hardly recognizable as Viognier.


The second person like it, liked the density, the overbearing fruit, the 14.7 per cent alcohol (!), the oozing luxe-ness of the finish, and got to finish it off.


But here’s the thing: The first person paid for it.  So that’s a done deal.


Price: $24 from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: It’s a yin yang thing.  (You thought I was going to say “there’s no accounting for taste” didn’t you?)

June 30, 2016

La Frenz Vivant, 2013 & La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

La Frenz Vivant

La Frenz Vivant, 2013

So close.  I mean look at the label, what a gorgeous blend, it’s whet-your-wine appetite enticing.  Viognier, a touch of sweetness, Chardonnay, a touch of class, Rousanne, a touch of herbal tea.  It makes you want to buy three bottles, one of each viaretal, take an eye dropper, and experiment in blends.  I had such high expectations.  But, while not a dud, it reaches for the stars and only gets two points from within the three point line.  All the way through we kept thinking about how the flavour tried, but couldn’t.  It touched on moments of interest but never got there.  It was like a roller coaster rolling backwards rather than cresting the hill.  If there was Rousanne, the Rousanne you associate with the Rhone, we were too inept to decipher it.  We did not get the potpourri or spice or complexity we expected; peaches and papaya, yes, although nothing to write much of a review about.


Price: $25 from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: Lewis Hamilton on the label, but the wine inside 12th on the grid.

La Frenz Ensemble

La Frenz Ensemble, 2013

A big surprise.  We put the bottle on the table and the next thing you know it was empty.  And we only had the one!  Extremely food friendly, enough acid and citrus Sauvignon style to wash down Asian or fish and chips.  Enough Semillon to have more interest in plain old SB.  Not as austere, striking or noteworthy as some of the noble Hunter Valley Sem/Sauv blends, but really lovely, approachable, and, as I said, easy to drink.  The citrus floral aspects counter a lingering creamy finish which leads to just one more sip. A keeper, by which I mean I should have cellared it.


Price: $25 from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: Nico Rosberg quietly slips into first place.

mercedes crash

August 11, 2015

Moraine Viognier, 2012

Moraine ViognierGismondi gave it a good review. Hmmm.


We have a phrase on the blog for wines that miss the mark this wide of the mark: Not even for risotto.


Price: $19.00 from Mud Bay.


Market Liquidity: Not even for risotto.

February 23, 2015

Yalumba Y-Series Viognier, 2014

Yalumba Viognier

Much trumpeted, poorly executed. A simple, innocuous, pale imitator of Viognier. And we are big proponents of obscure grapes. Just had a wonderful Cos Pithos Bianco in NYC which was gorgeous. And in a Brooklyn Michelin starred restaurant the server recommended a Californian Celadon Grenache Blanc, hands down the most food friendly and versatile white we’ve had in a long time (and only a couple hundred cases made). But this, this Y Series made us ask why at all? The blogosphere disagrees with me:


Loaded with fruit

Satisfyingly silky

Intense and perfumed

Bla bla bla


No.  This was hands down the most disappointing white I’ve tasted in months. Certainly it is, so far, the dud of the year. I know they make a higher end Viognier, but this was just plonk.


Viognier is such a versatile and welcome white I was sorely annoyed at how flat and distant this bottle was. We’d prepared a gorgeous Asian chicken stew with fresh ginger and star anise, cooked in daikon and squash. A decent Oz Tahblik Viognier would have hit the spot. The Yalumba went back to the pantry for risotto.


Fortunately we had a bottle of last year’s Blue Mountain Pinot Gris. And it hit the spot like magic.  BC Wines To the Rescue (who woulda thunk it?).


Price: $17.99 at BCL.


Market Liquidity: In the words of Simon Cowell, it was like ordering a hamburger and only getting the bun.

March 28, 2014

La Frenz Naramata Bench Viognier, 2012

161In another of our “revisiting recent vintages of wines we loved” week we sampled a newer La Frenz Viognier. In our review of the 2011 Viognier we went rather ga-ga, oohing and awing at the wonder of it all. Well, hmm, yeah. I don’t think there are any apologies in order but while we also liked this, liked it a lot, there weren’t too many raised eyebrows or conceited smirks at our vini-prowess. The 2012 is sort of Steven Wright to the 2011 Seinfeld.


Price: From the vineyard. $22 I think.


Market Liquidity: Pleasant and palatable.

August 27, 2012

La Frenz Viognier, 2011

Sensational.  But let me add: Full Disclosure—I’m not on the “Viognier is all” vogue train.  It’s the be all end all for some but it’s also, often, patently dull.  Not this stunning white from La Frenz in Naramata.

The La Frenz sips well, very well, and better yet was superlative with food, has exceptional generous fruit, and is just one of those perfect, social wines without pretense or affectation, yet with incredible intensity and flavour.  It reminded us of a lovely summer Muscat we also loved and reviewed here.

Dinner?  We drank it with harissa-marinated shrimp on a salad of summer cherry tomatoes, cucumber, Italian parsley and red onion.  Superb, Taylor and Burton on a good day.  If you could bottle this and sell it, by god you’d be rich!

The downside?  I didn’t order much as I’m not (generally) a Viognier fan and then the next thing you know it’s sold out and probably the only place I’ll see it is in a restaurant at the groan-inducing price of $45 or more…  Many medal wins of course.

Price: $22 from the vineyard.

Market Liquidity: Astonishingly good value.

Dessert, a fresh nectarine blackberry cobbler with ginger cinnamon crust, wasn’t too shabby either.

April 3, 2012

Le Vieux Pin Viognier-Roussanne, 2009

The only reason I’m angry about this bottle—aside from the price—is how many respected reviews it’s received.  It’s like when you buy a quality garment from a reputable house and it splits at the seams on first wear.


LVP pretends to produce wines that are much better than they really are.  Or so I think.  Drink them back to back with half a dozen other BC wines and I think you’ll see my point.  They make OK wines gussied up a bit with facsimiles of hand-crafted labels including tech specs in script and, for better or worse, a price tag that puts them in the upper echelon of the local crop.


Witness this Rhone blend which is sharp, minerally, lightly herbacious and a touch acid.  It’s spectacularly aperitif friendly but not terribly memorable or evocative and has nothing that we were anticipating (orange blossoms, honeyed fruit, etc.).  I would like to witness some con-no-sirs blind taste this and see if it scored so high against the real McCoy.  (I mean one review described it as having a note of “baked brioche” of all things; it’s that sort of crap that drives people to Yellow Tail.)  Oh, and 14 point effing three per cent alcohol: That’s patently anti-French!


Price: A preposterous $35 from the vineyard.  Pete’s in Seattle recently sold a Wine Advocate 93 pointer from the actual Rhone valley for $18.69 a bottle.  Now that’s something to write a review about.


Market Liquidity: Impressive, not.