2001 ROLL RANCH VIOGNIER (Dessert Wine)

Upper Ojai, Ventura CountyVICE

Instead of waiting here in Southern California for weather cold enough to freeze grapes, we took very ripe viognier grapes from Roll Ranch to a commercial freezer to make our ice wine. When the grapes were properly frozen, we whisked them to the winery, put them in the press, and squeezed out what we could-which wasn’t much. But the juice that did come out of the press was extremely sweet (42% sugar) because a lot of water, in the form of ice crystals, was left behind with the grape skins. This ultra-concentrated nectar was drained into older barrels and fermented until the combination of alcohol and sugar killed the yeast. The finished wine is well over 26% sugar and only about 10% alcohol.

What is more, the aromas knock you out with their exuberant flowery viognier character. I think this varietal is ideally suited for dessert wine, partly because it is so pretty! The flavor gives another blast of fruit. The middle palate impression is unctuous and syrupy sweet-but the acidity in the finish gives the wine a marvelous balance. This wine is a stunning match with fruit desserts.