Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Miner Family Vineyards, Simpson Vineyard Viognier

In over two years working at Gleneagles I only managed to get one wine listed on the wine-list. I had to be a sneaky bastard and use underhand methods to do it as well.

It was a quiet afternoon in the Strathearn and I was setting up the restaurant with my friend and colleague Remi. A more tedious and mindnumbing job would be difficult to imagine. One of the bartenders came down to the restaurant and asked for one of the sommeliers to come and speak to a couple about wines. Being the more senior of us, I took the opportunity for a quick skive and trundled off to the bar with a wine-list in hand. To keep this brief, the young couple in mind were due to get married in the hotel in a few months time and wanted some nice new-world wines for the wedding breakfast. As we didnt really have much to offer, I stuck my neck out a bit and blagged it, telling them we could get something in specially for them. I knew this fantastic viognier from Rosenblum that would suit what they were looking for, and it wasnt too expensive. They went for it, and I got my chance to add something to the list that I had wanted since I got there.

My plan almost backfired thought, when James from the Vineyard Cellars told me he didnt have any of the Rosenblum Viognier, but he had an even better one that was very similar in price. More blagging and the customers were sold, we got the wine in. James wasnt wrong when he said it was better than the Rosenblum. It was so good it ended up staying on the list, and although it wasnt a huge mover, it sold well enough while I was there.

Miner Family vineyards is run by Dave Miner and his wife Emily, in partnership with his parents. Before establishing Miner Family Vineyards in 1998 Dave was president of Oakville Ranch Vineyards, where he met his wife to be. The Miner philosophy is to source fruit from outstanding vineyards that reflect the terrior of California. They have secured long term contracts with some of the premiere vineyard sites in Napa and beyond, including Pisoni, Gibson, Simpson, Stagecoach and Oakville Ranch.

The Simpson vineyard is in Madera county, in the Central Valley area not too far from Fresno. Previously written off as unsuitable for grapes, several growers and producers are proving them wrong with outstanding, low yield fruit, packed with intense flavour and balance. The Viognier is quite outstanding, with vibrant white peach notes, apricot and white melon aromas. There is a slightly floral quality to the nose - not quite honeysuckle but similar. On the palate it is full bodied with the same bouncy fruit flavours and a slight hint of fruit sugar. Really ripe and luscious with mild acidity that builds towards the finish. Damned good viognier that come shining out of the glass and grows as it develops in the glass. Perfect summer sipper, or great with medium weight fish dishes - Turbot and clams with chorizo foam and intense bisque reduction.

Ive since added the wine to the list here, as well as Daves fantastic Zinfandel and there are a few more that Ive got my eye on!!

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