Keswick Vineyards Viognier Tasting - Virginia Rising @keswickvineyard


Have you discovered Virginia wine country?

When I think Virginia wine, the first wine which comes to mind is Virginia Viognier. Viognier is synonymous with good, quality Viginia wine. My first exposure to Virginia Viognier was in 2011. My expectations were high when I was asked to taste and compare three different Virginia Viogniers by Keswick Vineyards.

The original colonies were mandated by England to grow vinifera and to make wine. They failed miserably. Thomas Jefferson struggled for 30 years to grow vinifera, without success. Today Jefferson’s vision has been realized by the achievements of 250 Virginia wineries. Virginia is the fifth largest wine producing state in the United States and a world class wine country destination. I encourage you to go visit.
"Inspiration comes from family to be a good winemaker and a good person and wines reflect personality" 
-  Stephen Barnard, Keswick Vineyards Winemaker

Keswick Vineyards winemaker is Steven Barnard, who hales from Capetown South Africa. How did he end up in Virginia? It's a familiar story of boy meets girl, girl is too compelling to leave, boy decides to stay in Virginia and marry girl. Girls father owns winery, boy becomes winemaker for father in law. Seems common sense enough to me. Steven became a U.S. citizen in 2013. Yep, he's here for good and that's good for Virginia wine country.

1. Tasting Notes 2012 Keswick Vineyards Viognier $24.95
Color: Pale straw, palest of the three.
Nose: Pretty nose, floral, vanilla taffy powder, banana, tropical notes.
Palate: Tastes almost sweet with RS .35% good fruit. Full in the mouth, pleasant acid, tightness on gums. Nice lift mid-palate. Toast with banana on finish. I would pair with a rice dish, fried chicken and Tilapia. Recommended.

Closure: DIAM
ABV: 13.8%
Blend: 100% Viognier (70% tank fermented, 30% neutral oak fermented)
Sample provided by the winery.


2. Tasting Notes 2012 Keswick Viognier Reserve $27.95
Color: Pale straw.
Nose: Honeysuckle nose with whiff of coconut.
Palate: Restrained palate, feels good, reminded me a bit of a Chardonnay, dry finish, crisp on palate. Quite different from Viognier #1. It was 100% barrel fermented. This wine will not intrude on food. I think it would be great with shrimp Caesar salad.

Day 2: Color was a bit deeper, first impression on taste was lemony. Felt full in the mouth. Nice notes top of palate. Fresh. Enjoyed with lunch of Tomato soup with lemon dill, grilled cheese sandwich of English cheddar with truffle. Very Good. Think crab salad or chicken fettuccine as tasty suggestions. A good seafood Ciopino would be an amazing experience with this wine. Recommended.

Closure: DIAM
ABV: 14.2%
Blend: 100% Viognier
Sample provided by the winery.

3. Tasting Notes 2012 Keswick Signature Series Viognier $34.95
Color: Pale straw.
Nose: Nice mineral nose. Crisp. Stone fruit background. Nose interesting as it opened with vanilla shortbread.
Palate: Herbal/grassy note on dry stone fruit finish. It was restrained yet had a long finish. A wine suitable for a good friend or a date. Recommended.

Closure: DIAM
ABV: 14.3%
Blend: 100% Viognier
Sample provided by the winery.

Thoughts: My experience with Virginia Viognier implies that there is plenty of life in the bottle to enjoy these wines 4 or 5 years from today. These wines are only available direct from the winery. Only. They are not wholesaling any wine. Yet. Contact the winery direct to purchase these wines.

Keswick Vineyards is all estate grown fruit. The 2012 vintage is not blended. No secondary fermentation. Their vineyards were established in 2000. They have one of the largest plantings of Viognier in Virginia. Annual production is at five thousand cases of wine. They produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, Syrah, Touriga, Verdejo, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Chambourcin, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. With a total of 43 acres under vine the main grape planted is Viognier.

*Note:  In May 2011 Viognier became the official estate grape of Virginia.  

Keswick Vineyards
1575 Keswick Winery Drive
Keswick, VA  22947

Keswick Vineyards is a family owned and operated Virginia winery and vineyard located in the heart of Virginia wine country on the Monticello wine trail, just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.  Most of the wines are fermented using natural or native yeast and all of their current red wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. While approachable when young, most of the wines produced at Keswick Vineyards will see 5-10 years quite easily in the bottle, reflecting the personal tastes of the owners and winemaker.

Big thank you to Keswick Vineyards for sharing these lovely wines.

Related post: Dreaming of Virginia Wine


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