Calera Mt. Harlan Viognier 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Ripened to a warm yellow glow on Mount Harlan’s ridgetops, this viognier smells of peach nectar kissed with oak. The aromas suggest it will be buxom, but the wine is pleasingly restrained, with mineral detail—an ideal match for shrimp scampi.
Aromas of toast, lemon preserves, orange marmalade and light almond paste show on the nose of this bottling, which is a very compelling substitute for Chardonnay. There is a toasty core to the sip, where seared melon and orange-peel flavors meet with sea salt and brioche.
In 1975, legendary vintner and American wine pioneer Josh Jensen founded Calera (Spanish for “lime kiln”) high in the remote Gavilan Mountains of California’s windswept Central Coast. There, in Mt. Harlan’s low-yielding, limestone-rich soils and cool, arid climate, he began planting what would ultimately become six small estate vineyards. Today, these vineyards are recognized as some of the New World’s most revered Pinot Noir sites.
Calera is a vision, and Calera’s wines truly express the sense of place. Rather than follow the recommended path, Josh Jensen became a pioneer in American Pinot Noir. Taking his cue from the great domaines of Burgundy, which have grown grapes in limestone soil for centuries, he set out in search of the perfect spot in California to create wines unique to the world but in the style of the greatest wines of France. Site selection was vital as he ventured off the grid to plant on the site of an old limekiln in the Gavilan Mountains of California's Central Coast.
Under the stewardship of Winemaker Mike Waller, each vineyard is renowned for producing singular wines of uncommon purity, elegance and aging potential. In addition to its beloved single-vineyard wines, Calera partners with some of the top vineyards on California’s majestic Central Coast to make Calera’s beautiful Central Coast wines, including a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
At elevations reaching well over 2,000 feet, the Mt. Harlan AVA in the Gabilan Range is an anomaly among its surrounding Central Coast appellations. Recognizing the splendor of the area and its ideal limestone-rich soils, Josh Jensen chose Mt. Harlan as the home of his Calera Wine Company in the 1970s. Awarded his own AVA in 1990, Calera is the only commercial winery in the appellation.
Full-figured and charmingly floral, Viognier is one of the most important white grapes of the northern Rhône where it is used both to produce single varietal wines and as an important blending grape. Look for great New World examples from California, Oregon, Washington and cooler parts of Australia. Somm Secret—Viognier plays a surprisingly important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.