The Back Story:
It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a Virginia wine. Through no fault of my own, I’ve recently turned my attentions east, towards the Tokajis, Grüner Vetliners, and Gewürztraminers of the world. It wasn’t too long, though, before my attention wandered back to local fare. Thus, I picked up a Virginia wine on one of my recent wine shopping trips: The Horton Vineyards 2008 Tower Series Viognier.
Because what actually happened was rather dull, allow me to utilize the age-old writer’s device known as creative embellishment, and to point out that the unnamed wine shop villainized as such below is decidedly not evil in real life:
*cue the string quartet*
Scene: Caroline of the North Empire’s Wine Fortress. Year unknown.
Our hero, the wine explorer, nameless, approaches the imposing storefront. Glowing, blood-red letters embellished with a cluster of insidious grapes materialize in the air before the building, swelling a lump in his throat and beating him down to his knees. Give in, give in. The unreadable glyphs pierce his mind, forcing him to gaze into them one by one, each one sapping more of his energy.
He wrenches free of their hold, rolling to his feet as a terrible shriek cuts through the air around him. He sprints towards the only entryway, two glass portals framed by bars of pulsing obsidian. As he nears them, he throws his hands forward and snaps them apart, splitting the doors and sliding them in either direction as he tumbles through the doorway. Just before a sentry turns his way, the explorer rolls behind a stand of wine, the bottles rattling as he brushes by them.
Peeking around the corner, our intrepid hero spies multiple sentries throughout the area. He studies them carefully, seeking any kind of weakness that he can exploit. He notices several denizens unlike them, lacking uniforms, shambling throughout the aisles, collecting various corked bottles stored on racks on the walls. The sentries indicate which bottles are acceptable to remove, and if a denizen selects incorrectly, the sentry uses an overwhelming aura, what they call “snobbery,” to break their spirit and mold them into proper servants. All the hero has to do, he thinks, is shamble forth and submit to the sentries when spotted. So long as he didn’t let on his true target, the 3-liter casks of wine strategically placed far, far away from the Châteauneuf du Pape, he should be able to complete his quest.
Mere seconds after he rises from his crouch, he is approached by a sentry.
“Why have you entered our domain?” The sentry begins to emanate his oppressive aura, prepared to batter the explorer’s intelligence and willpower with a sickly wave of snobbery. Unprepared for such an encounter, the explorer grasps at the first diversion he can find.
“I seek the ambrosia of Greek Moschofilero.” The explorer hopes the obscurity of such a treasure would satisfy the sentry’s inclinations and suppositions. The sentry begins to tremble with anger, and the explorer worries he may have overreached in his estimation of the varietal. As the explorer considers his escape and steels his mind for a painful onslaught of magic hidden in thinly-disguised invective, the sentry slumps, the wave of snobbery all but vanishing around him.
“We have failed to procure most of such treasure, though the meager stores we have exist to the far west, there.” The sentry points towards one corner of the room and then hurries away, warming up his aura to exact his anger upon an unsuspecting denizen in the zone of Italian reds. As our explorer watches, horrified, the sentry grabs the denizen and flings her across the room where she lands in a wooden chair bolted to the floor. The sentry straps her legs and arms and turns on the TV in front of her. Sideways is on loop.
The explorer dashes in the direction the sentry had pointed, rounding the corner and swiping a bottle of the ambrosia as cover. Just around the corner, he senses, are the casks, his true goal, also stuffed in this forgotten corner. He approaches the wall of casks with caution, ensuring no sentries are in sight as he begins his cautious approach towards the musty shelves of casks. There are so many! He stands in awe of the vast array of casks, trying to discern which the most potent of them all. He only has room for two, and he had not expected such a selection. He wonders briefly why creatures such as these sentries, who reviled these casks so, would continue to stockpile them in such great quantities, but his musings are cut short as one rounded the corner. In his haste, he stuffs two casks that seemed most likely to hold the liquid he sought into his satchel and moves onward to the next zone. He finds himself face to face with shelves of wine from his homeland, Virginia.
A compunction to liberate one overwhelms his senses, and just before the sentry can approach him, he swipes a golden bottle from the shelf and sinks softly into the shadows. In his search for a single legendary cask of wine, he had collected four different containers, each one glowing brightly with the promise of invaluable treasure. He is amazed at how easily and quickly he had gotten them. Escape, he thought glumly, will be a whole other matter. What will it cost to get these home?
The appearance of the wine is an extremely light straw. When I say light, I mean the wine is almost clear. The color in that glass is almost entirely from the light in the oven behind it. The swirl suggests a creamy texture and a very high viscosity.
The nose of the wine is pungent and palatable. Floral and tropical notes combine for a very exotic, perfume-y scent. There are hints of mango and banana that jump out, and a honeyed, slightly musty odor lingers on the nose.
The mouth feel of the wine is as the swirl suggested. It was very creamy, with an extremely active acidity and effervescence that gave it a tingly, tangy consistency similar to a Frizzante.
The flavor of the wine was rather unlike a typical Viognier. It was very dry and extremely complex, full-bodied and refreshing. The attack was both floral and citrusy with a toasty undertone, followed by strong mineral and honey flavors. The finish was rather long with subtle mango and peach flavors coming through the minerality. at 13.8% alc, there was no suggestion of the alcohol in the flavor. It was an all-around harmonious wine.
For the Casual Drinker:
This is a fantastic summer sipper. It’s aggressive, full-bodied, and refreshing. There’s some sugar in this wine, but the acidity and alcohol are so high that it manages to be crisp even though it has a thick texture. This is one of those wines that you want to experience on its own: take a sip, close your eyes, and enjoy the flavors and sensations as they wash over your tongue. If you had to pair it, I would suggest a lighter seafood or pasta meal. This wine would not handle tomatoes, spiciness, or red meat well at all.
Though I wasn’t expecting this style of wine at all from this region and this grape, I was thoroughly impressed by it. It’s well worth the $20 price tag. And seriously, are you gonna turn down a bottle that beautiful? 7/10