In 2011, the Virginia Wine Board designated Viognier as the Commonwealth's Signature Grape in order to better market Virginia's growing wine industry. On one hand the policy made perfect sense, since the grape excelled in the Virginia climate and personally, Virginia Viognier is one of my favorite wines. On the other hand, the decision was criticized because only about a third of Virginia wineries produced a Viognier wine and at times the grape can be very temperamental in the vineyard.
For instance, Corcoran Vineyards (Waterford Virginia) lost their entire 2010 harvest to frost, came back strong in 2011 with a wonderful dry Viognier, but in 2012 - - -. Well last year, the fruit composition was just too high in sugar for a dry wine. What is a winemaker to do? Looking at the success of their red port styled wine - the Chambourcin USB - Lori Corcoran thought, why not a white port? She fortified the wine to 18% with grape brandy - just under the legal 20% threshold - and then aged the wine and used A. Smith Bowman Distillery bourbon barrels. The result is initially, a hot wine with a little burn, but very quickly the butterscotch\vanilla flavors subdue the flames and the wine coasts to a smooth finish. This is a truly unique flavor and a style I never imaged for Virginia's signature grape. The white port is not available yet - this was a sneak preview - but keep checking the Corcoran website for a release date.
And beware, do not consumer too much white port before walking over to the twelve beers on tap at Corcoran Brewing Company. It could lead to an early night. Cheers.