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What our expert thought of Gerovassiliou Viognier




the tasting

The Tasting


Viognier has thick yellow skins, so with that pre-fermentation skin contact I was expecting a really deep colour.  Surprisingly, this wine is a lovely medium greeny-gold – positively pale for a Viognier.  But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised: barrel fermentation (as opposed to barrel aging) encourages colouring matter to settle out, producing paler wines.
 
The nose… oh my!… the nose is amazing.  It soars up out of the glass, and there’s so much in it.  Viognier’s trademark honeysuckle and apricot are present in spades, but there are also piercing sweet citrus scents of pineapple and lime peel.  A lick of ginger adds to that impression of freshness, while tropical fruit notes of lychees and mango reinforce the ripe apricot.  There’s fresh green herbs in here too: oregano and thai basil.
 
Underpinning all of that is smoky, toasty oak.  If I had to describe this nose in a single sentence I’d say it smells like Rose’s lime marmalade on buttered toast.
 
Despite the sweetness implied by the nose, the palate is dry although sweet-fruited.  It’s full-bodied but not heavy, thanks to the surprisingly zingy acidity which can be felt, along with the alcohol, on the sides on the tongue and the corners of the mouth.
 
With this intense mouthfeel come bold, pure flavours of peach, lychee, ripe pear and, curiously, sweet chestnut (like marrons glacés).  That nuttiness is probably derived from the lees aging, along with the creamy texture on the afterpalate.
 
The warming finish is long, spicy and smoky, with an intriguing hint of bitters.
 


Assessment


If I were to make a list of characteristics that I don’t much like in a white, this wine would tick most of them.  It’s very perfumed, quite heavily oaked, high in alcohol (although 14% is right in the sweet spot for this grape) and, well, it’s Viognier.  So consider my prejudices well and truly overturned because I don’t just like this wine, I love it.
 
This is world-class Viognier.  The night before I first tasted this wine I was at an en primeur  tasting of Rhône wines from the excellent 2015 vintage.  There were four delicious Condrieu whites, from top names like Ogier, Niero and Rostaing, with pricetags ranging from £30 to £52.  Only one of them was as good as this Greek upstart.  So I bought lots for myself, even though I couldn’t fit the darn bottles into my wine rack.  That was the 2015 vintage, which was quite a tricky one in Greece.  This 2016, harvested in perfect conditions, is even better.



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium lemon, definite hints of green
Nose

Intensity pronounced

Aromas floral (honeysuckle, jasmine), stone fruit (apricot), piercing sweet citrus (pineapple, lime zest/marmalade) hinting at botrytis?, pungent spice (ginger), tropical fruit (lychee, mango), lees (sweet chestnut, butter), herbal (fresh oregano, thai basil), oak (toast, smoke)

Development youthful
Palate

Sweetness dry, but sweet-fruited (sweet alcohol, too)

Acidity medium+

Body full-

Intensity pronounced

Flavours stone fruit (peach), tropical fruit (lychee), ripe pear, nuts (sweet chestnut), lees (creaminess)
Finish

Length long

Flavours warming, spicy, smoky, hint of bitters (like Angostura)
Other notes
Heavenly nose! Very textured mouthfeel (acidity/alcohol/flavour intensity). Remarkably elegant, given the power.


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