Category Archives: Viognier

College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Collegiate Impulse

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Fellow wine lovers, there’s a lesser known winery in Walla Walla which has really come into its own in recent years. In the past several months alone, they have had multiple wines winning top honors in various wine competitions around the nation, include with Sunset Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, TexSom/Dallas Morning News, and the Northwest Wine Summit. Not to mention they were written up in the Seattle Times late last year. This winery is making some outstanding wines, and is really unique because a part of the winemaking program at the Walla Walla Community College, and the wines are made by students under the guidance of top wine experts.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier $16.99

The Viticulture and Enology program at Walla Walla Community College boasts an advisory board which reads like the who’s who of Walla Walla- including winemakers from Woodward Canyon, Cayuse, Leonetti, L’Ecole, and Pepper Bridge- which often means that the students are interning at those high caliber wineries while in school. About three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting two of the instructors in charge of the there, Tim Donahue and Sabrina Lueck, and immediately took note of their tremendous knowledge and high level of passion for wine. Suffice it to say, ever since these two took charge of the program, the wines made by College Cellars of Walla Walla have gotten better and better every year, and this year they’ve broken through towards gaining recognition for their efforts. Don’t be fooled by the fact that these are student made wines. Once, when I was in college, I had my hair cut at a beauty school, by a student. The haircut was so bad, that I had to get it cut again elsewhere to fix it. This isn’t like that, and the wines are without a doubt made at a professional level.

I’m of the opinion that it’s not easy to find a great Viognier, as it can be difficult to turn out one which is balanced. The College Cellars Viognier is just that- balanced, elegant, and true to style. It’s one of few Viogniers I’ve seen sourced exclusively from Walla Walla, where I think the climate suites the grape properly. They’ve aged it in a large scale neutral oak tank, which can give the wine a bit of extra body, but no heavy oak character. The final product is a pretty glass of Viognier, with a lightly perfumed nose, showing hints of stonefruit, and tropical aromatics. The palate is medium bodied, dry and fairly crisp, with flavors of apricot, honeysuckle, and a hint of bright pineapple. Surely a great summer wine, and an excellent value

As far as I know, this wine is exclusive to us, as they’re not currently distributing it in the Seattle area. They’re loading up and sending us a shipment of the Viognier just for Impulse, which means we only get one shot at ordering it, and will need everyone’s orders in by 10am tomorrow (Wednesday) please.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Click here to order the College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Region: Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Blue Mountain and Dwelley Vineyards
Grape(s): Viognier
Aging: Aged in a Large Neutral Oak Tank
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Press: Winery written up in the Seattle Times



Heavenly Impulse – Côtes de Ciel 2012 Viognier

Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain is one of the undisputed champions of vineyards in our state. They provide grapes to the best of the best of Washington wineries, including Betz, Andrew Will, Fidelitas, Mark Ryan and many more. They’ve even been recruited to plant and manage the estate vineyards of Quilceda Creek (Galitzine Vineyard) and DeLille (Grand Ciel Vineyard), and are the masterminds of the famed Grand Reve and Force Majeure Vineyards. Now they have a new wine of their own, featuring the fruit of Ciel du Cheval.

Côtes de Ciel 2012 Viognier $16.99 (Regularly $22)

Red Mountain is considered by many to be the Grand Cru appellation of Washington, and Ciel du Cheval is one of the original vineyards to take root there. It could be said that Jim Holmes founded the vineyard as the serendipitous result of a few failed get rich quick schemes. Having originally come to Tri-Cities as an engineer with Handford, he was always looking for clever financial ventures. After some failed investments in the stock market during the 70’s, he hatched a plan to invest in real estate and, along with John Williams, purchase some inexpensive land on Red Mountain with intentions of turning it over.
CotesdeCiel 12 VI
Soon after, they got wind of Walter Clore’s research on the great potential for vineyard land in Washington, and suddenly they had a gleam of grape growing in their eyes. Together they planted what is now Kiona Vineyard on the land they had acquired, and later Jim Holmes parted ways to plant his own vineyard. He named it Ciel du Cheval, which roughly translates to Sky of Horses, or Horse Heaven, in French.

The consistently warmer weather and unique soils have made Red Mountain the sight of many top red wines, especially Cabernet and Syrah. The hot nature of this area discourages many from growing whites, but Ciel du Cheval is among a select few who do it, and do it really well. This is the very first vintage of their Côtes de Ciel label, and they’ve tapped Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas as their winemaker. It’s a great example of a well balanced Washington Viognier; pretty, but not too fruity or perfumed. It has hints of minerality, flavors of peaches and apricots, a touch of white flowers, and is rounded off with nice crisp acidity.

Region: Red Mountain
Vineyard: Ciel du Cheval
Pair with: soft cheeses, dried stone and tree fruits
Drinkability: Now to 2016
Production: 539 cases

Click here to order this wine