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Wine of the week: Anaba, 2019 Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Viognier

This week’s blind tasting

Anaba, 2019 Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Viognier, 13.9%, $36. 4 stars. A lovely viognier with pretty stone fruit up front and citrus playing back up. Aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and pink grapefruit. Bright acid. Great balance. Finishes crisp. Striking.

Marimar Estate, 2018 Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley Albarino, 13.5%, $34. 3.5 stars. An elegant wine with a gorgeous blend of citrus and stone fruit. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit, white peach and mineral. Nice and dry. Nice length. Impressive.

Chappellet, 2019 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, 13.7%, $38. 3.5 stars. A chenin blanc with great structure and refreshing flavors. Notes of Meyer lemon, guava, peach and mineral. Dry, with bright acid. Creamy texture. Well crafted.

Lang & Reed, 2018 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, 13%, $35. 3.5 stars. A chenin blanc with great minerality coupled with vibrant fruit flavors. Notes of pear, melon and peach. Buoyed with bright acid, this chenin blanc is a refreshing quaffer.

Firesteed, 2019 Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Gris, 13.5%, $16. 3 stars. A light and breezy pinot gris. Crisp and clean, with notes of melon, pear and lemon. Bright acid. Refreshing citrusy finish. Solid.

With the drama of wildfires roaring through Wine Country in August, some winemakers forgot they were in the midst of a pandemic. The tumult of Mother Nature can be quite distracting.

“I think that we’re only able to handle so many traumas at once,” said Katy Wilson, winemaker of Sonoma’s Anaba Wines. “I have chatted with other people in the industry who have said the same. This year has been unlike anything most have ever experienced in their lifetime. For me, I have just tried to focus my attention on the task at hand at that given moment.”

Wilson is the winemaker behind our wine of the week winner — the Anaba, 2019 Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Viognier at $36. It’s a lovely viognier with pretty stone fruit up front and citrus playing back up. The viognier has aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and pink grapefruit. It has bright acid and great balance and finishes crisp. The Anaba is striking.

Other tasty whites include Marimar Estate, 2018 Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley Albarino, $34; Chappellet, 2019 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, $38; Lang & Reed, 2018 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, $35, and Firesteed, 2019 Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Gris, $16.

As for the winning viognier, Wilson said the seamless 2019 vintage made it a standout.

“I think that this vintage in particular showcases everything coming together in the right way,” she said. “The weather was great leading up to harvest, and we were able to pick at a moderate Brix (sugar level), with great flavor and just the right amount of acidity. It was the perfect storm, in a good way.”

With viognier, like most varieties, making the right decision about when to pick is crucial, Wilson said.

“For viognier, if you pick too soon, then you can have a very boring wine that has no character,” she explained. “If you pick too late, then you could have a viognier that is lacking in acidity and is too opulent. My intent with our viognier is to pick at a ripeness where you see the varietal character and get a hint of richness, but before you lose too many of the beautiful aromatics.”

After calling the time of the pick, Wilson said she tries to be as hands off as possible.

“I do this in a very thoughtful way,” she said. “I’m very careful about when and how much I expose my wines to oxygen through aging. I love it that no vintage is the same. I strive to showcase maximum vineyard expression, allowing for the unique nuances of each vintage to shine through.”

Wilson, 37, graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 2005 with two degrees, agricultural business and wine and viticulture.

“As with everyone, we have been greatly affected by the fires,” the winemaker said. “Some vineyards we weren’t able to pick this year, which is very disheartening. But we’re keeping our heads up and looking forward to 2021. With farming, there is always another year to look forward to.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week’s blind tasting

Anaba, 2019 Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Viognier, 13.9%, $36. 4 stars. A lovely viognier with pretty stone fruit up front and citrus playing back up. Aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and pink grapefruit. Bright acid. Great balance. Finishes crisp. Striking.

Marimar Estate, 2018 Don Miguel Vineyard, Russian River Valley Albarino, 13.5%, $34. 3.5 stars. An elegant wine with a gorgeous blend of citrus and stone fruit. Aromas and flavors of grapefruit, white peach and mineral. Nice and dry. Nice length. Impressive.

Chappellet, 2019 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, 13.7%, $38. 3.5 stars. A chenin blanc with great structure and refreshing flavors. Notes of Meyer lemon, guava, peach and mineral. Dry, with bright acid. Creamy texture. Well crafted.

Lang & Reed, 2018 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc, 13%, $35. 3.5 stars. A chenin blanc with great minerality coupled with vibrant fruit flavors. Notes of pear, melon and peach. Buoyed with bright acid, this chenin blanc is a refreshing quaffer.

Firesteed, 2019 Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Gris, 13.5%, $16. 3 stars. A light and breezy pinot gris. Crisp and clean, with notes of melon, pear and lemon. Bright acid. Refreshing citrusy finish. Solid.

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