Inferior Good: Diminishing Marginal Stupidity in Action

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

2005 Horton Viognier, Orange County

Virginia wine pioneer Dennis Horton has been experimenting with grapes in the state for nearly 30 years. After mostly unsuccessful attempts with the big Bordeaux and Burgundian varietals, he moved to Rhone varietals and, more recently, to Iberian varietals. He also grows Norton, a Virginia native widely cultivated in his home state of Missouri.

Horton planted Viognier after a visit to the Rhone Valley, believing the warm weather loving, somewhat frost and mildew resistant varietal would be a perfect match for Virginia’s climate; hot and humid summers that often follow late spring frosts. He was right.

In the late 1990’s, Decanter Magazine wrote, "Horton is probably making the USA's finest Viognier." A WaPost article quotes an oenologist's assertion that, "[Horton’s]… 1993 Viognier is considered by many to be the finest Viognier ever produced in this country", and notes its inclusion in Paul Lukac’s new book The Great Wines of America. Clearly, Denis Horton’s Viognier has been well received.

I wanted to try this wine because it’s from my home state of Virginia and because I’d read Horton makes his Viognier more in the French style than the California style. That is, his wines supposedly emphasize crisp acidity rather than big, fat fruit. Sounds like my kind of wine. My wife graciously bought a bottle of the stuff on her recent visit to DC/Virginia and hauled it back to the Emerald City for me.

With all the hype, I was frankly preparing myself to be disappointed. I was not disappointed. This wine gives you peach and vanilla and some overt residual sugar. The Horton Viognier would be too sweet for my taste, were it not deftly balanced by tongue tickling acidity. The acidity creates a sensation that reminds me of Moscato d’Asti’s effervescence. This is a really enjoyable, food friendly wine that will please a wide range of palates. Good stuff. E.F. Glutton and I were most impressed.

$12.99 from Total Wine & More.

Addendum: My bottle was labeled "The Tower Series". According to Horton Vineyards, this is identical to the wine sold at the vineyard tasting room and other wine shops for $20. The Tower Series Viognier has a black label with a gold drawing of the Horton winery, whereas other bottlings feature the traditional grape clad label shown above. I’d pay $20 for this wine, but at $12.99 I’d buy a case of it. Unfortunately, Total Wine & More does not ship.


  • You are so right about this wine. I have already bought 2 cases, and I am planning on getting more in a few weeks. This is a world class wine, and it is made in Virginia! Who would have thought!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 AM  

  • Glad you liked it too. I'm hoping I can get a friend of mine in DC to send me a case. It's good wine, and it's fun to serve VA wine to your friends; most people in Washington State don't even know there are vines in VA.

    By Blogger Whit Stevens, at 1:27 PM  

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