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Le P'tit Paysan L'Apiculteur Cedar Lane Vineyard Viognier 2014
The farther we looked, the more we found – remote, challenging vineyards, with hard depleted soils, and intense sunlight tempered only by the coastal breeze. Vineyards capable of producing only the most idiosyncratic wines. Our goal as winemakers is to lightly polish the roughest edges and leave the idiosyncrasy intact. It is here in the back country, filled with individual character, where Le P’tit Paysan comes to life.
We are not in "wine country." We have no trophy wineries, nor posh tasting salons. This is farm land, desolate hills, and solitude. What we do is simple, without artifice, and we enjoy it.
Winemaker Ian Brand puts a lot of miles on his car searching out and spending time in vineyards. He likes dirt roads, 12" vinyl, point breaks and hiding in the barrel room.
Named after the dramatic, seasonal river of rain and snowmelt that cuts through the upper elevations of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the Arroyo Seco AVA (American Viticultural Area) extends east from this resulting mountain gorge on its western side, and into the rural and warm Salinas Valley. During the growing season, cool and damp Pacific Ocean air penetrates the gorge and flows into the valley, creating a cool evening respite for vineyards after hot summer days. This natural water-release has also created a subterranean aquifer, which helps set the foundation of AVA's boundaries and supplies the vineyards with water.
Arroyo Seco was actually home to the first commercial vineyard in California, called Mission Ranch, which was owned and propogated by the Mirassou family in the 1960s.
Arroyo Seco is one of the oldest AVAs in California, its status granted in the early 1980s, and also remains one of its smallest.
Full-figured and reminiscent of a potent floral perfume, Viognier is the mandatory grape of the northern Rhône appellation Condrieu and neighboring monopole (an entire appellation dedicated to just one winery) Château Grillet. It is also a blending variety in several appellations throughout the entire Rhône Valley. Viognier is grown throughout much of the world with some degree of success, but is perhaps at its best outside of France in Oregon, Washington, and cooler parts of Australia, where minerality and acidity can be achieved to give the wine the backbone it can sometimes lack.
In the Glass
This is a heady, aromatic variety making rich, complex, and full-bodied white wines redolent of a floral bouquet and assorted stone fruits and tropical fruits, with a hint of spice not unlike that of Gewürztraminer. It is lower in acidity than most white wines, lending to its heavy impression on the palate. While a whiff of Viognier might suggest sweet flavors, these wines are typically quite dry.
Viognier is an intense, bold variety that can easily stand up to gutsy food like pork loin with apricot stuffing, chicken Kiev, or rich, spicy fare.
While Viognier is a white grape, it also plays an important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône, made otherwise from Syrah. 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.