Peter Weygandt of Weygandt Selections and Weygandt-Metzler, met Jesse Skiles of Fausse Piste at Hospice du Rhone 2009. This summer, Fausse Piste wines found their way to the shelves at Weygandt Wines in Washington, DC. Fausse Piste produces very limited quantities of stellar Rhone-style reds and whites from small, well-placed vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla areas of Washington State, and Amaranth Ridge in Oregon.
Peter Weygandt wasn’t the only one to take notice of Fausse Piste at Hospice du Rhone. Gang of Pour was also impressed and had the following to say: “Perhaps the most unforgettable example of Viognier comes from newbie Fausse Piste; both new to the event and new winemaker from Oregon. If ever a wine expresses the purity of Viognier fruit, the ’08 C’est la Viognier, Outlook Vineyard Find this wine in Yakima Valley does. Fermented one half in barrel and one half in tank, the wine retains a lively crispness, while showing white peach, lemon grass, anise and cream flavors. If this is not the finest Viognier of the show, it is certainly in the top five.”
In 2009, the Yakima Valley had one of the warmest vintages in quite some time. A perfect spring rolled in to unusually hot summer, which was lucky, given an early frost across much of the state on October 11th. The heat seemed to have less impact on Rhone Varietals as on wines based on Bordeaux varietals. Harvested on September 14th at 25.8 Brix with unusually high acid and a ph of 3.6 the Viognier was ripe, but also well-balanced due to low yields of 2.4 tons per acre.
Handpicked then chilled at the winery overnight, following Hand sorting and then pressed whole cluster over a long and delicate press run. Settled overnight in tank then fermented in equal parts neutral French Oak, Stainless steel 75 gallon drums and a Concrete “egg” from Numblot in France using a combination of native and yeast isolated from the Rhone Valley. After weekly battonage and a long cool fermentation, the wine is not allowed to undergo Malolactic fermentation. Lightly fined using bentonite, minimally sulphered and filtered sterile in a single pass through a plate and frame and bottled on March 19th 2010, then released May 1st 2010.
On the nose, mineral notes with stone fruit, honeydew with a little saline and lemon oil. On the palate, more stone fruit with green apple, citrus, some beeswax and thyme. Good steely minerality with crisp acidity. This would be interesting to pour blind and see if it was a ringer as a New World wine, I’m not sure I would have been able to place it. Certainly not your extra rich, creamy and overoaked style of Viognier. I really enjoyed this bottle and was even more impressed with it on the second day. 163 cases produced. 14.1% alcohol. Recommended and a fairly decent value at $21 a bottle.