Thursday, June 19, 2014

Comparing 2 Texas Viogniers

Almost a year ago I linked to an article about a competition in which wines made from Texas-grown Viognier grapes beat wines from France's Rhone Valley (the home of the grape) and California.  (Go here for the full story of the tasting and a list of winners.)  Viogniers are one of the rising stars of the Texas wine industry, and I've been wanting to get to know them better, so I selected 2 to taste and compare.  I wanted 2 Texas Viogniers that both scored well in last year's tasting, are widely available, not too expensive, and roughly the same price.  So I picked McPherson and Becker.  Both the McPherson and Becker Viogniers are made from grapes grown in the panhandle of Texas (though Becker is based in the hill country).  Both were the 2012 vintages.  Let's taste!

2012 McPherson Viognier

McPherson is located in the Texas High Plains wine region, which is in the panhandle of the state. This Viognier finished 4th in last year's tasting.

  • Color:  Deep yellow.
  • On the nose:  Tropical fruits and floral aromas dominate, along with peach, banana, and some earthy minerality.  
  • On the palate:  The flavors on the palate generally match the aromas on the nose.  Full body, high acid. 13.9% abv.

I really like this one, and at $13 a bottle I will buy it again.  The rich flavors and full body combine with high acidity to make a versatile wine.  (I happened to be eating German food the night I tasted this, and it paired nicely.)  

2012 Becker Vineyards Viognier

This wine finished 3rd in last year's tasting.  The website tells me it also won a silver medal in Lyon, France. Though Becker is based in the hill country, these grapes also came from a vineyard in the panhandle. 

  • Color:  Deep yellow.
  • On the nose:  More minerality than the McPherson, with fruit aromas leaning more toward stone fruit than tropical.  Less fruity overall than the McPherson, but with more floral qualities.
  • On the palate:  As on the nose, there is less fruit character on the palate here, but more floral, earthy, and mineral character.  Slightly higher in acid and lighter in body than the other Viognier.  Higher in alcohol at 14.4%. 

In my opinion, two things detracted from this wine, but only one of them is likely to be the wine's fault.  First, I wasn't crazy about the floral qualities.  This is probably my issue, not the wine's.  I enjoy floral character in wine, but certain flavors put me off and make me feel like I'm drinking perfume.  For example, Gewurztraminer and I have never gotten along.  I know, I'm crazy.  But this Viognier reminded me of the Gewurztraminer flavors that I don't like.  Becker's website says the floral aroma is of violets, so maybe I just don't like violets...  Anyway, it's nothing against the wine. Second and more important, I found the alcohol level too high, causing the wine to be out of balance. Perhaps a richer fruit component could have stood up to such a high alcohol level.  Like the McPherson, the Becker Viognier costs about $13.


I prefer the McPherson Viognier to the Becker, though the Becker performed better in last year's tasting. They're both reasonably priced, so if you're like me and you drink far more white wines in summer than any other time of the year, give one or both of these a try.

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