One of the great joys of wine is discovery. Today in the Rattlesnake Hills wine region of Washington, the winery I was headed for was closed, so I went exploring. An easel sign near an orchard pointed the way to Reflection Vineyards, up a gravel road through the trees, and it was open. What a find! Holly made the tasting room a pleasant experience, when she is not at Reflection she works with Ron Bunnell, another of my favorite wine makers. I knew I was in for a treat.
My primary goal was a glass of white and a place to sketch, the setting was right for sketching; now all I needed was wine. Their only white is a Viognier, and what a wine. If I could only have one white wine I would be tempted to make it a Viognier, so I was pleased.
Kent and Allison bought the 40 acres now known as Reflection Vineyards in 2007, most of the land was in cherries, but they wanted to grow grapes. Their first planting was 16 rows of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They did however keep some of the cherries.
They practice what is known as “free run” in the production of their reds. With free run the grapes are crushed but not pressed. Most wineries crush the grapes, which extracts the best of the juice, and then press the remaining skins and pulp to extract more of the juice. While pressing produces a higher yield the juice from free run is the highest quality possible.
Free run wines tend to be fruitier, less acidic, and lower in tannins. Tannins are what give some young wines that “pucker” feeling in the back of the throat. Free run reds are easier to drink young, and the fruit is enhanced; I never forget that wine is liquid fruit first of all. Reflection Vineyards currently produces a Mélange, Cabernet, Syrah, and the Viognier. I love a winery that focuses on what they do well.
The Viognier was just right, it has more body than a Pinot Gris, which of late I have been finding too thin for my taste. I have overcome my bias, illogical of course, of Chardonnay, but these days find the Viognier more enjoyable. Viognier is less buttery than a California Chardonnay, none of the citrus of a New Zealand, yet not as heavy as some Chardonnays can be.
Reflection’s Viognier is the perfect balance in a white wine; enough fruit to make it fill the mouth, just dry enough to finish nicely, and a round enough feel to let you know you are embracing more than fruit juice. Sitting on their deck, sipping a glass, pen and paint in hand, made for a perfect afternoon.