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2009 Vina Robles WHITE4 Heurhuero Paso Robles

Vina Robles WHITE4 is a unique blend of four white wine grapes most famously grown in very different parts of the world. Vermentino is most common in northern Italy, Sardinia, parts of southern France and Corsica. Viognier is widely known for the wines of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone. Historically, Verdelho has been most prominent as one of the four main varieties used for making fortified wine in Madeira. It’s usage for light wine is predominantly in the Douro Valley of Portugal where it’s called Gouveio and in Galicia, Spain where it’s known as both Verdello and Godello. The final grape in the blend is the most well-known and well-traveled, Sauvignon Blanc.

In Europe, laws dictate which grapes can and cannot be used in specific appellations. There making a blend like this could start fights and end careers. But, in the New World, wineries can pretty much grow or blend whatever they like. While this results in the occasional train wreck, it also encourages innovation. More and more, I’m finding really good California wines made from unexpected varietal combinations.

The first vintage of Vina Robles WHITE4 was 2008. The 2010 WHITE4 has just been released. Some things are common to each vintage: the four varietals, the source (Huerhuero and Jardine), and letting the wine rest on its lees for six months. However, whereas the 2008 saw only stainless steel, the last two vintages have let some of the components age in neutral oak. The percentages of each variety in the blend also vary widely.

The 2008 had a Verdelho focus (41%) with just 11% Viogner and an almost even split of the other two. The brand new 2010 is the most varietally balanced with 16% Vermentino and an even mix of the other three. The 2009 being reviewed here is heavy on Vermentino (42%) with just 3% Sauvignon Blanc and an equitable mix of the other “V’s.”

The 2009 Vina Robles WHITE4 is aromatically generous, fruit-centric yet complex. Grapefruit, lime, peach, white flowers, green apple and exotic spice vie for your attention. But, while the aromas spill out of the glass simultaneously, the palate is more sequential. It starts with the peachy/floral flavors of Viognier and its lightly creamy texture. Those aspects are gradually balanced and then overcome by zesty acidity and citrus flavors from the other grapes. This transitions to a finish of citrus pith and brine with a mouthfeel that is fresh but with a touch of oily viscosity.

If you’re looking for a good and versatile wine to serve with Summer meals, the 2009 Vina Robles would be a good choice. I’d pair it with a slightly oily white fish, grilled and topped with a salsa of tropical fruit. I think it would also be great alongside a fresh pork tamale with a delicately sweet corn masa. Drink now through 2012. Recommended.

Learn more about Vina Robles, including visitor information and photos. I'll try to follow up shortly with reviews of the 2008 and 2010 vintages as well.


2009 Vina Robles WHITE4 Heurhuero Paso Robles
Rating: Recommended

Drink: Now through 2012
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Retail Price: $16 (sold out at winery)
Blend: 42% Vermentino, 29% Verdehlo, 26% Viognier, 3% Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: Paso Robles, all Heurhuero Vineyard except for the Sauvignon Blanc which is Jardine Vineyard
Aging: 6 months sur lie in stainless steel tanks and neutral barrels
Alcohol: 14.2%

Closure: Screwcap

The wine above was provided by the winery as a sample. It was not tasted blind.

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