That is incorrect! But so right! - Martha Stoumen throws down with her 2017 "Varietally Incorrect" Viognier
Oh yes she did! One of my favorite winemakers, and super cool force of nature to be reckoned with in the wine world has thrown down the gauntlet. Martha Stoumen is challenging everything you knew about Viognier, and making something that is a super quaffable summer wine. Its a wine you need in your life right now, the 2017 Martha Stoumen Varietally Incorrect Viognier.
What we know about Viognier
We think of Viognier as this super oily, meaty, heavenly, butterscotch-like white wine with a glorious floral aroma. It is as full bodied as white wines come, with a rich texture that will make you swoon. Every heard someone suck on a butterscotch candy and moan like crazy? That's what Viognier will make you feel. But it's not for everyone! This super heavy wine can be intimidating for a lot of wine drinkers, sometimes its just a little too heavy, or a little too oily. Ah well, what can you do about it right?
Well, if you're Martha Stoumen
Well if you happen to be named Martha and you run one of the sexiest small wineries in the United States that want to showcase what "place" can do to a wine, you can throw out some of the rules and do things a little different. She sourced her Viognier from the Starry Night Vineyard in Calaveras County, not far from Sacramento in Northern California. There, the North facing, high elevation vineyard leaned itself to something different, something that you would never expect from Viognier. What Martha was able to create with this unique planting of Viognier is a wine that has a nice punch of acidity that cuts through the texture of the wine so that it is not so oily, if oily at all.
I often say that Viognier is my favorite white wine because it is so rich. This is my favorite white wine because it is exactly the opposite of what I would expect from a Viognier. It's almost like a punk rock approach to Viognier, but more Debbie Harry and less Sid Vicious. Its got a beautiful voice, but its pushing boundaries and changing perceptions, much like Martha. Yes, you can say it, Martha Stoumen is the Debbie Harry of wine.
In fact, this is such an awesome wine because it shows you just what Martha Stoumen can do, her light-handed, natural approach allows her to coax out the wine out gently into what it wants to be. This is because Martha has a deep understanding of how the wine comes to be, from growing the grapes to harvesting and fermenting into that delicious bottle we sip on alongside our besties. She knows what would make an enjoyable wine and she knows how to get the grapes there, she's not into checking boxes so that you get the same old Viognier you were always going to expect.
I certainly hope that more winemakers can be like Martha Stoumen. Her approach is showing us that there is so much more to wine than chasing points and achieving the perfect version of this wine or that wine. When you let a wine just "be" then you come out on the other hand with a wine you will love. All you need to do is open your heart, and let it sink in with every sip. This is why I am a big of hers and eagerly await every bottle of every new release, knowing that her dedication will come through in every wine leads me to believe I will enjoy every bottle coming out of her winery regardless of the grapes she uses.