|Kevin Willenborg, Winemaker|
Willenborg found notes of “Mandarin orange and peach” from the Viognier. Viognier is not an easy grape to get right. Classically grown in France’s Northern Rhone, it ripens very quickly and can be high in alcohol and low in acidity. But, what this grape lacks in acidity it makes up for in body and rich floral, perfume, honey and stone fruit flavors.
The Verdelho grape is interestingly a Portuguese grape used to produce a fortified wine called Verdelho, one of the drier styles of Madeira. Willenborg gives it credit for “citrus and melon notes” in the blend. Vermentino is used for “mineral[ity] and mouth feel.” Vermentino is another grape that we may not think about very often in the US. It is better known in Italy and the French owned island of Corsica.
Growing conditions in Paso Robles vary depending in part on whether the vineyards are cooled at night by ocean air or high elevation. At the Vina Robles estate Viognier, Verdelho and Vermentino are grown in the Huerhuero Vineyard where cooling ocean breezes slow ripening and help grapes retain their important acidity.
Just like a good cook might squeeze in some lemon juice to brighten a dish, Willenborg has added Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, we recognize the telltale flavors of Sauvignon Blanc. It is the source of tropical fruit found on the nose and palate, and adds acidity to balance the fatness and softness of the Viognier. Vina Robles’ Sauvignon Blanc is grown in their Jardine Vineyard which is slightly warmer than some of their other sites. One of the characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc grown in warmer climates is more fruitiness.