2021 Culmina Family Estate Winery Viognier, Golden Mile Bench VQA, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 0.92 g/l) Wine Club Exclusive $34 (750ml bottle)

Now one will need to do a little bit of work to get one’s hands on this bottling, but I’d wholly recommend joining Culmina’s wine club to get some as it’s really that good. Please bear with me here…

While it may seem odd to recommend a wine that one has to join a wine club to access, I’d just like to give this absolutely excellent wine some recognition as, quite frankly, it’s perhaps the most accomplished Canadian Viognier I have ever tasted.

Viognier is oft a fickle grape in my opinion, so often producing dull, flat wines that have vaguely exotic aromatics and little else. This wild ferment limited-edition bottling made with fruit sourced from a small pocket of the organic Stan’s Bench vineyard, on the other hand, is exactly what I look for in a top tier Viognier.

The layered and complex nose brings ripe apricot, sandalwood, stem ginger, lemongrass, clove, and a heavenly heavily-floral element that brings to mind magnolia blossom on a humid summer night in France… yes, as olfactory memories go, this one was pretty damn specific.

The concentrated and yet sophisticated palate completely nails that delicate balance between richness and lift that is a rarity in all but the best of Viogniers. In the mouth it thoroughly satisfies without ever falling into the oily category, a textural clumsiness so often found in lesser wines. The relatively strident acidity here came as somewhat of a surprise, but was much welcomed, and hints at this being a Viognier one could lay down for a good four years or so. The finish is classic apricots with an interesting touch of astringency.

Because of the acid profile this wine lends itself to many more food-pairing opportunities than one would normally think of when looking at it varietally, and therein lies its irresistible charm for me. I paired this alongside a gloriously fatty pork chop grilled (and charred) on the barbecue beside Ontario peaches (again grilled) at the very height of the season.

This is an exceptionally well-crafted bottle of wine.

(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)