Okay, so it’s not often that I find myself laughing out loud in a liquor store, but when I do, it’s because a producer has found a spectacular pun. This one also ties to their history, which is even better.
To pull from Fairview’s (the producer) website:
… Charles’s young son Jason accidentally left the gate open to the paddock, and so the little group happily roamed among the vineyards, showing rare discernment by selecting some of the ripest berries from the vines – their adventures being the inspiration behind our Goats Do Roam range.
And of course, as the site description says, I love myself a good pun (plus winemakers not taking themselves too seriously!). Seeing Côtes du Rhône so perfectly mimicked (in name, if not necessarily in wine) is just brilliant. Absolutely adore it.
The wine itself is a classic blend–viognier, roussane, and grenache blanc. I say classic, because the latter two are often the only thing that prevents viognier from becoming wickedly overpowered (and have been paired for centuries in the Rhône valley). An overview:
Voted, ‘most likely to be described using sexy terms’ in high school, viognier is a, “Headily aromatic variety making particularly full bodied whites” (GGG), that is now found in vineyards across the globe–despite going nearly extinct in 1960. Its aromas are also often described in savory-sweet ways, such as, “… apricots, honeysuckle, May blossom, gingerbread …” (ibid.).
The book also describes viognier as ‘increasingly fashionable’ in South Africa. Additionally, in one of the first mentions in the GGG that I’ve seen, Fairview is mentioned by name as producing, “credible varietal wines”! Admittedly, this isn’t a varietal wine, but still!
Roussane, like viognier, hails from the northern Rhône Valley (remember when I said this was a classic blend? There’s a reason!). It’s often blended with a close sibling, marsanne, though marsanne tends to be more prevalent as it’s easier to grow.
In another first, I saw the book having trouble placing the aroma of roussane:
… often with a refreshing perfume akin to herbal tea (verbena?) reminiscent of spring blossom, and tends to have higher acidity …
It’s found in fairly limited quantities in South Africa, but Paarl (where Fairview is located) has a chunk of the plantings.
Unsurprisingly, a variant of garnacha, here going by its French name. There’s not much to say; it’s a full-bodied white, similar to its red sibling. Here used to provide structure and underlay the power of viognier.
The Western Cape (where Paarl, and by extension, Fairview, is located) is broadly considered to have a Mediterranean climate–which is to say, cool, wet winters, and warm, dry summers. Not bad for vines, by any stretch. Microclimes abound, though.
Okay, on to the actual wine!
Full name: Fairview, Goats Do Roam, Western Cape, 2015.
Grape(s): Viognier (61%), roussane (20%), grenache blanc (19%).
Price (to the nearest $5): $10.
Vinter: Charles Back.
Winemaker: Anthony de Jager.
Nose & Color
– Even-bodied pale straw yellow.
– Clean, savory nose. Like wheat fields on the coast.
– Smooth, so clean and lovely. Just a hint of yellow fruit and honey coming forward.
– Silky. That’s the viognier speaking. Reminiscent of a chard, honestly.
– Long, lingering, with sufficient acid to balance out the roundness of the blend. Excellent.
What I’d like a viognier blend to be. Full-bodied without being overwhelming, some fruit–can’t complain!
We’ve had some excellent bottles at these price points. I may start heading further down just to see if there’s something that I don’t like. Though I do know I have a doozy coming up soon …
Thanks for reading–may your glass be ever full!
Robinson, Jancis, et al. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, September 24th, 2014.