2020 Cline Cellars Viognier, North Coast, California (Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO Vintages $17.95 (750ml bottle)
Californian Viognier can often be a bit of a mouthful, and not necessarily in a good way, however with their 2020 North Coast Viognier, Cline show that they definitely have the smarts when it comes to coaxing the best out of this grape in the Golden State.
After some less than impressive run-ins with Californian Viogniers at the clumsier end of the spectrum, this well-balanced (not to mention well-priced) example, was like a breath of fresh (not to mention, highly aromatic) air.
The still family-owned Cline Cellars were at the vanguard of Californian Rhône variety exploration, and that experience has unsurprisingly paid off. Sourcing fruit from some of the cooler regions leads to a wine that while being undeniably unctuous, has considerable verve on the palate, hitting that rather elusive sweet spot between ripe Viognier phenolics and surprisingly brisk acidity. Even at 14.5% alcohol, it’s not top-heavy, which speaks to the considerable winemaking skills of Tom Gendall, at the helm of all things in the vineyards and winery since 2016.
Aromatically it’s full of benchmark apricot, canned pear, baked pineapple, and rose petal. The corresponding palate is weighted, honeyed, and rich, texturally pleasing without ever straying into “too much” territory.
You can check out my recent interview with Hilary Cline and the aforementioned Tom Gendall right here.
(Four apples out of a possible five)
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