December 01st, 2012

Our Viogniers…. a Q&A with Cinder Winemaker Melanie Krause.

Why do I make Viognier?

Viognier grows beautifully in the Snake River Valley.  I think we can grow Viognier with as much aromatic charisma and textural elegance as any other growing region in the world.  Exactly why the grape grows so well here is something of a mystery but certain things likely contribute to the amazing success of the variety here.  In our high-elevation desert climate we enjoy drastic diurnal shifts, daytime temperatures often between 85 and 100 F with nights cooling down to between 55 and 70 F.  This helps the Viognier ripen while retaining natural acid levels and delicate aromatic precursors.  In addition the near absence of rainfall during the growing season allows my growers to meter the water though drip irrigation, allowing canopy size, crop load, and sun exposure to be precisely customized to my style.

Why & How do you do craft two styles of Viognier?

When you discover such a wonderful home for the Viognier you want to explore the spectrum of expressions this grape can create. I settled on the idea of a dry, crisp style (Dry Viognier) and a more opulent and tropical expression (Off-Dry Viognier) as my goal.

I use differences in the custom farming to start the differentiation of the Dry and Off Dry styles.  The Off-Dry Viognier is farmed with the lowest crop load and the most sun exposure on the clusters.  This encourages the berries to ripen to a beautiful shade of pink and the wines express tropical flavors like pineapple and passion fruit.  The Dry Viognier is farmed with a little heavier canopy and crop load, ensuring that the grapes express lower ripeness levels than the Off-Dry with flavors and aromas of peach and blossoms.

Making Viognier in the SRV has been an exploration of styles for me.  The Cinder Dry and Off Dry Viognier go off the typical path because they are made to showcase the aromas and delicate flavors rather than the heavy texture, which is the norm.  When I feel the year is exceptional I make a Reserve Viognier in a more old world style with 9 months of barrel aging with lees stirring and then bottling unfiltered.  The Reserve Viogniers are a nod to great Viogniers of the Rhone region and the wonderful winemakers that first inspired me to take note of this beautiful grape.

I hope you enjoy our Viognier selections.  They are my first love here in the Snake River Valley…but perhaps not my last!