Wine of the week: Cline 2009 North Coast Viognier

For Charles Tsegeletos, viognier is exotic, a wine with power and finesse.

Tsegeletos is the winemaker behind our wine of the week winner — the Cline 2009 North Coast Viognier, 13.5 alcohol content, $12.

In addition to viognier, contenders in our line-up of whites included fume blanc, pinot gris and Torrontes, an Argentine grape. The flight was impressive but the 4-star rated Cline viognier was a standout, fleshy and silky with bold fruit flavors.

What gives viognier its appeal? "Flavors of apricots, nectarines and Cuties with a mouth-filling body," said Tsegeletos. "This is a white wine with a lot of flavor that can stand up to flavorful foods without being overpowered."

The winemaker said when making viognier, his goal is to keep it oak-less.

"We want to preserve and showcase those amazing fruit characters without complicating it with oak flavors," he said. "We ferment the viognier juice slowly and at very cool temperatures and the wine is never aged in oak."

Tsegeletos said viognier can be a challenging varietal to pull off. "The grape variety buds out early in March and ripens late in the season, so it is a bit more susceptible to frost than other white varieties," he said. "It also has a thick skin which can impart a little bitterness in the wine, so we are very gentle when we handle this grape."

The winemaker has been producing wine for 30 years, toiling at Cline for eight harvests. Tsegeletos said the appeal of the job is its scope.

"I love the fact that there are so many different aspects to the job," he said. "One day I can be out in the vineyard checking the grapes with a grower and the next day I may be in San Francisco presenting our wine to a restaurant owner, and the day after that I could be crushing grapes."

Staff writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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