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MWG March 21st tasting (3/6): Rhône-ish

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Viognier 2010, Santa Ynez Valley, Zaca Mesa Winery ($20.20, 11882547)
100% Viognier. Began fermenting in stainless steel vats. Halfway through it was transferred to neutral French oak barrels for maturation. Not allowed to undergo malolatic fermentaion. 13.5% ABV.
Faint tropical fruit, peach/nectarine, honeysuckle, dried earth and straw. Dense and mouthfilling but with surprisingly high acidity for a Viognier. As minerally as it is fruity. Long though a little alcoholic on the finish. Unobjectionable but also unmemorable. (Buy again? Probably not.)

VDP du Gard 2010, Terre d’Argence, Domaine Mourgues du Grès ($20.25, 11874264)
Viognier and some Roussanne according to the producer. Roussanne (40%), Grenache Blanc (40%) and Viognier (20%) according to the Quebec agent. Equal parts Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc according to Matured in stainless steel tanks for six months (seven months according to the agent). An unspecified fraction is vinified and matured in oak barrels, at least according to the producer. 14.5% ABV.
Minerally, faintly floral, white grapefruit, a bit burned. Rich texture but ashy, acidic and acrid. Produced grimaces all around the table. Oddly, 24 hours later, the tail end was transformed: less heavy, better balanced, nearly ashless, the muted, peach-evoking fruit displayed against a minerally backdrop, with no off flavours – not great but quite drinkable, which no one said about it the night before. (Buy again? Only because I believe in giving second chances.)

That the Zaca Mesa was unexciting wasn’t a surprise; inexpensive Viogniers almost always are. The Mourgues du Grès was another story. The Costières de Nîmes estate’s reds have long been QPR favourites of mine and many other drinkers and the other whites of theirs I’ve tasted have always been enjoyable (I liked their private import white box wine enough at a restaurant to try to convince others to go in on a case with me). But at the tasting, the Terre d’Argence was virtually undrinkable – in sharp contrast to the generally positive reviews it received from local columnists – though it did improve greatly with extended exposure to air. Again, like the Nicolas Potel in the preceding flight, ours may have been an off bottle or may have been suffering from travel shock or from being opened just before being served. But if so, how odd that the Potel and the Mourges are represented by the same agency (and one of our favourites, at that). And how unfortunate that advance carafing should be required, as most consumers just pop and pour.

Written by carswell

March 28, 2013 at 17:17

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