Idaho Wine Month Part 1 featuring Williamson’s Sangiovese and Viognier

When people think of wine, they think Napa, or California, Washington, Oregon or New York because these are the regions of the US that make the most wine that is the most readily available in retail markets.

But wine is actually made in all 50 states! And some of it is actually very good! In January, we wrote about a wine from New Jersey, and I really like the wines I’ve tasted from Colorado.

And when I was at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, there were a few wines from Idaho so when we traveled to Yellowstone in 2011, we bought and enjoyed Idaho wines with our meals, and I made a point of visiting a few wineries along the Snake River as well. I was very impressed with the quality and the prices were amazing.

Surprised there is great wine in Idaho? One former potato farmer now vinter told me in 2011 that if the weather is right to grow potatoes, you can grow grapes — the most important element each needs is significant diurnal variation — hot during the day and cold at night.

Idaho’s cold winters allow vines to go dormant, rid plants of bugs, and discourages disease. Summer time’s cold nights cool the grapes which balances the acids with the sugars that come as the grapes ripen during the long, hot, sunny days: in a 24 hours period, temperatures can fluctuate between 30-40 degrees!  Along the Snake River, the days are HOT but at night they cool down to very pleasant temperatures in the 50s.

Another factor is DIRT: Idaho’s rich, volcanic soils have attracted grape growers for over 150 years. Because southern Idaho offers ideal growing conditions, it was one of the first places in the west to have a thriving wine industry — that is until Prohibition snuffed it out and other crops took its place.

Last summer Sue came back from a trip to Idaho with a case or more of wine from the region! Here’s a blog post where we discuss the Hat Ranch Cab Franc she brought back. 

So when I was asked whether I was interested in sampling and reviewing Idaho wine, I answered an emphatic YES!

Slowly but surely we’ve been working out way through the case; I think we have three bottles left. And what a wonderful journey it has been! One of the first wines we sampled was another from Hat Ranch, their Dry Moscato which we opened up for Moscato Day May 9 (which is also Sue’s birthday!).  These two wines definitely made me a Hat Ranch fan! In May we also tasted Cinder’s Sauvignon Blanc as compared to wines from around the world.  I visited Cinder in 2011 and met winemaker Melanie Krause. I fell in love with their briny Tempranillo; we have yet to taste the Tempranillo from our box that is from Bittner.

While we were sent samples of 12 different wines from 12 different wineries, Idaho has 52 wineries which is a substantial increase from only 11 in 2002. Most of these wineries are clustered around the Snake River, a massive body of water which cools off the land at night.

As June is Idaho Wine Month, today and tomorrow I will be posting about wines from Idaho starting with two from Williamson. Sue visited the winery and brought back a bottle of Williamson Viognier which we paired with a cheese plate and a simple summer salad and I was sent a bottle of Sangiovese which we paired with osso bucco.

Williamson – 2014 – Viognier – 14.9% alcohol SRP ?

This is a fantastic wine — great wine for picnics, potlucks, or parties. A pale chiffon yellow in color, on the nose  little oak, vanilla, butterscotch,  not your typical viognier which is usually more white flowers like honeysuckle and white stone fruit.

On the palate, there is the typical viognier mouthfeel — a lovely roundness that is smooth and easy to drink but not flabby. While surprising high in alcohol, it’s not apparent on the palate; you do not taste the high alcohol, but maybe feel it a bit on the finish on the back of the throat. (Note: the 2016 which is available at the winery now is only 13.9).

big body heavy mouth feel wine…

I think that this would go really with trout and with a smoked trout and stone fruit salad. This went really well with our salami, so consider pairing it with a BLT, with avocado.

This is a white wine that can handle some big flavors and fattiness, even blue cheese, which is so surprising because white wine rarely (ever?) goes well with blue cheese. The only cheese it did not go well with was our mushroom brie.

We all felt that this would be great Thanksgiving meal wine. It will carry through every course that a Thanksgiving meal has to offer.

Barrie said this is a “well grounded wine” — I love the earthy minerals that come through from the volcanic soil.

From the website: “Our Viognier is best described as not too sweet and not too dry. This white wine has a gentle aroma of apple blossoms and starts out dry and crispy it then flows into a sweet apricot finish. Serve with turkey, salmon, trout or roast duck. Ginger lemon grass, rosemary, and tarragon compliment this wine. ”

Sue purchased this wine at the winery summer 2016. We couldn’t find a price on the website and she wasn’t sure how much she paid for it.

Williamson – 2012 – Sangiovese – Snake River Valley – 14.4% alcohol 176 cases SRP ?

There’s a delicious brininess — a salinity and acidity, like iron, like blood to this wine, and a richness, an intensity that we loved.

It even smells like iron!

Color – umber, burnt red with a bit of gold, but not coral or orange.

Nose – to John, this smells of barnyard which reminded him of a Pino Noir; for Sue, she found cloves, camphor, and white pepper while I was most struck by the iron and woody notes.

Palate – Lots of blackberry and blueberry loveliness when food is combined with the wine. We paired this with osso bucco made with beef shanks and it was delightful– the wine cut through nd stood up to this rich, layered meal.   The licorice flavors from basil go so well with this wine. When paired with our Asiago with basil, this wine tames this salty wonderful cheese, and I associated it to the movie Grease — 

John Travola is the wine – this is a tough guy wine but goes soft with the right touch.

Olivia Newton John – is the strong Asiago with basil cheese that when paired together become harmonic “You’re the one that I want, hoo hoo hoo”

There is a bit of sediment left behind in the glass even after finishing the first glass. But that’s ok!

From the website:

Winemakers notes ~Aged for 28 months in 40% French and 60% American oak.  The extended ageing help breakdown some of the inherent astringency of the Sangiovese varietal, and the wine turned out really well balanced.

Tasting notes ~ Our Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red wine with intriguing aromas of cedar and smoke. Notice the bright flavors of cranberry, raspberry and hints of vanilla that balance against mellow earth tones. We recommend serving this at room temperature. Try serving our Sangiovese with pasta dishes with a heavy red sauce. Parmesan goes nicely with this wine. Herbs, such as basil, oregano and cloves compliment this wine.

This wine was provided as sample for my review consideration; no price was provided and we couldn’t find it on the website.

One thought on “Idaho Wine Month Part 1 featuring Williamson’s Sangiovese and Viognier

  1. Pingback: June is Idaho Wine Month: Koenig’s Viognier and LH Riesling | wine predator

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