But really, between grad school and other stuff, I've been studying for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level 2 with the International Wine Center in NYC (passed, so now according to some peeps in London, I officially know something). I'm now going down into the Advanced (Level 3) rabbit hole... So we'll see if I can ever do this whole "blogging" thing on a regular basis. Good news: I've still been blind tasting and doing pretty well here and there. I've been keeping a record, so one of these days I need to enter them all into a spreadsheet and tally it up. There is a blind tasting for the Advanced exam, so I'm a bit nervous (besides the fact I need to memorize 250 pages of wine stuff...).
Thanks to Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino and CC (whoever you are!) for making some EXCELLENT guesses.
For me, I could tell it had oak (all that sweet vanilla typically means new french oak) and with the orchard fruits, citrus, and the creamy mouthfeel... I was leaning toward New World Chardonnay... Perhaps California? It still had a bit of acidity, so I was thinking maybe Sonoma Coast, where the ocean influence cools the grapes and allows them retain some acidity and develop complex flavors... I
Also, another possibility could be White Rioja (made from Viura aka Macabeo, oh the synonyms.... Dios mio!). Now, In Rioja they use American oak, which would give more of a dill/coconut flavor, but at the same time, something didn't seem right about Chardonnay either... Let's just say I was stumped. I didn't know what to do with this wine...
Cold Heaven "Le Bon Climat" Viognier '10 - Santa Barbara, California
I NEVER get Viognier. Ever.
I don't know why I ALWAYS forget it exists, but not anymore. Upon re-tasting this wine, I definitely missed the apricot/stone fruit element that is a key marker for Viognier. This variety is very famous in the RHONE (South Eastern France: Condrieu & Château Grillet) . Though I don't have Viongier often, I really do love it... well, the few I've had anyway.
What to look for in a VIONGIER: floral, some stone fruit & pear, creamy & fuller body, perhaps a touch of oak. This video details a bunch of other varieties, but I like the Viongier segment that is delivered in a particularly seductive manner (appropriate for this wine)... "VEE - OHN- YAY. Difficult to pronounce? Only the first time." (haha, just watched again... man. oh, man. oh, man.)
ANYWAY... Cold Heaven seems pretty awesome. And it doesn't hurt that a woman seems to be in charge, Morgan Clendenen. (Woot!)
She pioneered "cool climate" Viognier, which is why the acidity was likely higher than most Viongier. And though I said Sonoma, it DOES get cool down in Santa Barbara thanks to the breezes that come up through the valley. Oh, the mircoclimates of California. So much to learn.
Here is what a Critic had to say:
Pale gold. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of nectarine, orange pith, candied ginger, bee pollen and flowers. Sappy citrus and dried pit fruit flavors stain the palate, with slow-mounting spiciness adding back-end cut. Lively but powerful viognier, with excellent clarity and floral-driven persistence. 93 points
IN SUM: This was a fabulous wine, and I hope I'm so scarred from missing Viognier again, that I'm going to get it next time. (Please, please, PLEASE, let me get it right next time)