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Late Harvest Viognier
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2006 Late Harvest Viognier
Image $27.99/375 mL bottle          20% case discount

“I am not really a dessert wine person” has been the continuous preamble to “WOW!” from our new dessert wine fans. We were of a similar opinion until several years ago when after tasting through several small local wineries and a series of fantastic cabs, merlots and syrahs, we were introduced to an extraordinary Late Harvest Viognier from a fellow local Woodinville winery and instantly had a new favorite in our own cellar. That particular Late Harvest Viognier became the bar with which we measured all other dessert wines.

This wine left such an impression that we followed it back to the original vineyard and the exact block of vines to create our winery’s inaugural release. The Elerding Vineyard has been a source for many of Washington’s finest wineries. At the base of Horse Heaven Hills on the southern end of the Yakima Valley, owner Steve Elerding and vineyard manager Roger Bates have developed a premium grape growing site that provides Northwest Totem Cellars with many of our red varietals as well as our Viognier.

This vintage has a unique split harvest report. On the eve of October 29th, the valley experienced record-breaking cold with temperatures descending below 11º F in many pockets. This would be cold enough for ice wine. A quick call to Roger Bates and we were picking in the wee hours of the morning. However, with half of the field picked the sun was rising and so were the temperatures. We decided to delay the rest of the crop until the next morning with th­e hope that the remaining grapes would also be harvested under conditions allowing for ice wine. However, temperatures the next morning rose to a balmy 14º creating, instead, a nice cold “Late Harvest” with sugars at 30.6º brix. This is in contrast to the first day’s harvest at 36º brix. There, a decision was made to blend the two harvests and create an “Icy Late Harvest”. This is certainly not a legal descriptor but, moreover, a poetic one that aptly describes the outcome as well as the finger conditions in the vineyard on both of those mornings.

The 2006 Late Harvest Viognier from Elerding Vineyard is a floral, tropical fruit resort with a delicacy of enhancing sweetness without trespassing on the palate. Pineapple, pear and passion fruit are just part of the flavor tour. The amber color exudes this wine’s clean finish. Though dessert wines are normally served in small stemware, this is one you may want to enjoy in a larger vessel to allow the aromatics to play equal billing.