Winery: Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Viognier
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Craig Larson
How They Describe It
This the perfect dessert wine after a main course or a cheese plate at the end of a meal. Expressive, delicate fruit characters of peach, papaya and vanilla compliment the palate.
Interesting facts: Picked on September 9th with optimal sugar levels of 29.0 Brix from the Geneva Clone Callaway Vineyard. Fermentation was arrested at 13.3 Brix to attain the specific amount of residual sugar and alcohol.
Aging: 100% stainless steel
Composition 100% Viognier
How I Describe It
Clear and pale in intensity, the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier has a predominantly lemon yellow hue. However, the wine’s coloring is draped in a haze of golden honey. The texture is richly viscous when swirled in the glass.
Fruit-forward and floral on the nose, the 2019 Late Harvest Viognier headlines with pineapple, yellow peach, lime, and grapefruit. These are joined by an undercurrent of honeysuckle and elderflower. Diving deeper into the aromas reveals hints of pear and honeydew melon.
Honey drenched beeswax overshadows both an opulently sweet flavor profile while preserving one of Viognier’s more unique characteristics. Also prominent are canned peaches and pineapple juice cocktail. Behind those come orange, limeade, and honeydew melon. Interestingly, the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier’s sweetness ends with a trace of bananas foster, pear, and grenadine.
This is a notably sweet wine with medium alcohol, making it an ideal dessert aperitif. Fermentation was halted at 10.0% ABV to preserve sugar levels, making the alcohol content fairly low. Nevertheless, the 2019 Late Harvest Viognier is full bodied, with medium-plus flavor intensity, and a long, sumptuous finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
The Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier is the first dessert wine we’ve reviewed on Temecula Wine Ratings. And, while most Temecula wineries produce at least one sweet wine (e.g., ports and sherries), we’re glad the inaugural review goes to this particular bottle.
To be clear, the port- and sherry-styled wines produced in the Temecula Valley AVA are outstanding. Some even put the Old World progenitors to shame. However, what impresses me about the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier is how the end product comes completely from the estate harvested grapes.
For context, often, dessert wines are fortified. In other words, the wine receives additional sugar during fermentation. Callaway’s 2019 Late Harvest Viognier, though, naturally accumulated sugars on the vine late into harvest season. This allowed Callaway Winery’s winemaker to balance sweetness and alcohol levels with minimal additives.
Late harvest grapes also have a tendency to shrivel a little while on the vine. If timed right, this water loss concentrates the grapes flavors, creating a richer and more vibrant bouquet. This seems to be the case with the 2019 Late Harvest Viognier. That said, it also dramatically reduces the total yield. With only 2,980 bottles manufactured, this is a rare wine.
While botrytized and/or barrel aged late harvest Viogniers are not uncommon, Callaway’s 2019 Viognier clearly features its estate fruit’s unadulterated characteristics. Since Callaway Winery is known for leveraging their vineyards’ biomes in some wines, it’s reasonable to conclude this fruit-forward version of Late Harvest Viognier was deliberate. And we’re thankful for it.
When & How I Would Drink It
As a dessert wine, I recommend enjoying the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier as a dessert. There is more than enough flavor to enjoy as a stand-alone cordial. But you wouldn’t be wrong to pour it next to a variety of confections.
The wine’s honeyed and fruit-forward nature make it ideally paired with honeyed and/or fruit-forward desserts. Pineapple tarts, apple pie, flan, and key lime pie would all do well. While dessert wines and cheeses are often tasted together, I would err on the side lighter and sweeter, like panna cotta or cheesecake. Harder, savory aged cheese could taste astringent next to the wine’s sweetness.
That said, if you’re interested in a simple experiment, try pairing the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier next to something extremely sugary, like a cupcake. Before biting into the cupcake, taste the wine. Then, take a bite of the cupcake. Once you’ve swallowed, try the wine again. If you give it a try, let us know in the comments how the wine changed!
How to Get It
Order Online: http://www.callawaywinery.com/prod-411515/Late-Harvest-Chardonnay.html (despite is the URL naming, this is the page for the 2019 Late Harvest Viognier)
Bottle Price: $35 ($28.00 for wine club members)
Cases Produced: 248 cases
Have you tried the Callaway 2019 Late Harvest Viognier? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.