RKS Wine: On the Search for a Star Ontario Viognier

Marsanne and Viognier are often companions in a blend creating a very unique stye of wine. Lots of tropical notes like mango and peach with pineapple. Viognier on its own is also or can be quite tasty. Here in Ontario countries of origin for Viognier would primarily be France and Australia.

Does Ontario produce Viognier? Yes it does but in limited quantities. During the “ravages” of COVID we headed out to St. David’s in Niagara and met some friends at Fielding Estate before heading off to our inn. A massively disappointing Viognier there. Also from Niagara pre COVID I picked up some Viognier from Stratus Vineyards. Great at the tasting room but it did not age well as it turned a bit funky.

So we try yet again with a KEW Vineyards 2018 Marsanne (75%)/Viognier (25%) from the Beamsville Bench with just over a thousand cases produced.

On the nose it reminds me of the slightly funky Stratus Vineyard Viognier. Wood and Viognier must be handled delicately. The oak here is a bit overpowering. The funk obfuscates the mango, pineapple and peach and holds it under its thumb. You know the Rolling Stone’s Song “Under My Thumb!”

On the palate that damn oak hangs around like a pack of blackflies. Yes there is the mango, pineapple and peach but again its been choked by the French oak it was resting in for 8 months. Even then not much character to reward an eager palate. It is quite neutral and unimpressive.

Ontario if you want to produce a Viognier or a Viognier blend that can match Australian or French competitors at the same price you have some work to do.

While I wait for the great Niagara Hope I think I’ll stick to the Yalumba Y Series Viognier from Australia ($14.95) or D’Arenberg’s Hermit Crab ($17.95).

(KEW Marsanne/Viognier 2018, VQA Beamsville Bench, KEW Vineyards, Beamsville, Ontario, $19.95, 750 mL, 14%, RKS Wine Rating 85/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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