The Francis Coppola Reserve Viognier 2010 ($25) crafted in stainless still with 13% alcohol showcases an exotic tropical fruit and plumeria flower nose followed by luscious flavors of pineapple, juicy pears, honeysuckle, and spice. Even if you generally stick with Chardonnay, challenge your taste buds with this beauty. This is the kind of wine you can sit back and sip away the hectic work week with. Think Jacuzzi, hammock, or beach chair and a glass (or three) of this delicious Viognier.
It is especially good with Mrs. Scorcese’s Lemon Chicken (click here for recipe) which is a favorite at RUSTIC Francis’s Favorites located in the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Napa and is under the direction of Chef Tim Bodell. Working alongside Coppola, Bodell relies on his expertise and knowledge to recreate Francis’s cherished family recipes and favorite cuisine from around the globe.
The grapes came from Lily’s Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, situated only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Russian River Valley is heavily influenced by has a cool, foggy coastal with a terrain composed of sandy, clay loam soils. Lily’s Vineyard utilizes specialized trellis systems that maximize air flow and capture sunlight. This is important in a cool climate where there is pervasive fog—resulting in excess moisture—that requires help from sun exposure. Nighttime temperatures are thirty to forty degrees cooler than daytime temps giving the grapes the ability to accumulate concentration by ripening over a longer period of time and helps the grapes retain their acidity. As a result, this Viognier strikes a delicious balance between rich, ripe fruit and crisp, natural acidity, which is often hard to achieve in warmer climates.
More About Viognier: French Viognier is grown in climates like that of Condrieu in the Rhone Valley, which has cold, wet winters and hot summers, and increasingly in the Mediterranean climes of Languedoc. In California, Viognier is often subject to moderate winters and warmer weather. Greater ripeness levels optimize this grape’s tropical, floral, honeyed stone fruit character but can result in lower acidity and higher alcohol levels and in some cases overly ripe renditions of this lovely varietal . Ripe, full-bodied Viognier often has alcohol levels 14 percent and greater, and moderate to lower acidity. Oaked and nonoaked bottlings can be found, both of which have fans in a variety of styles and prices. I like the unoaked versions from cooler appellations in the $15 – $25 range. I do expect that the warmer California appellations will work with nursery’s to come up with clones that will give the grapes a leaner taste, rather than the overly tropical fat notes and taste that do not do the varietal justice.