Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Viognier 1999
Led by Christopher and Kristine, the vineyard selection was anything but happenstance. They sought and discovered a piece of land reminiscent of the warm Barossa Valley of the land down under. Here, the perfect union of climate, soil, and geography permit the infusion of the best of Alexander Valley with Australian vitality and heritage of winemaking.
On the heels of the success of their Alexander Valley site, the family added an extraordinary piece of land in Mendocino's Yorkville Highlands. In 2001, under the guidance of a new Aussie winemaker for both estates, Michael Scholz, they released their first Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc. In the next few years the vineyard promises to produce fruit for a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz as well.
This was the inception of Wattle Creek, an American winery that derives its logo and name from the yellow blossom of the Australian Wattle tree and its essence and style from Australia.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
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.