A Shoot Off The Vine: Sampling McPherson Cellars' Viognier

Winemaking is a laying-on-of-hands tradition, a passion that is often passed down from generation to generation. Most often, the children, grandchildren and other family members will stay with the core brand, further refining and developing its tipples and making it better. Occasionally, one branch decides to break from the tree, as in the well-known case of Robert Mondavi, who was fired from the Charles Krug winery his family owned and set up shop allegedly out of spite.

Apparently, no such rift was the cause behind the founding of McPherson Cellars Winery, whose owner Kim is the son of Dr. Clinton "Doc" McPherson, founder of the eminent Llano Estacado brand and thus one of the pioneers of the modern Texas wine scene; in fact, Kim named the business in honor of his father. In the decade since McPherson's inception, the brand has been honored with more than 400 medals in competitions at all levels, thus reinforcing the winemaker's wisdom in planting Italian and Rhone varietals that thrive on the High Plains. These include sangiovese, Grenache-mouvedre and viognier. This latter white varietal is often considered a weird stepchild of a grape because of a turpentine-like taste which is naturally present in the grape but can be overwhelming if the wine is not made carefully.

Pouring out my tasting, I noticed a pretty soft golden color, only slightly paler than Chardonnay, which suggested good things to come. Floral on the nose, not only lavender, but meadow flowers with a very natural perfume, not too strong. Lots of apples on the palate, and pears too, with slight citrusy and tropical fruit notes, and just the lightest hint of the terpines that cause the turpentine flavor. An excellent drinking wine, but McPherson Viognier truly shined at its brightest when paired with food, in this instance pork tenderloin with Thai-style peanut sauce. This dish tasted richer and fuller on the match, really bringing out the peanut flavors, which is no surprise since Thai food is said to be a classic pairing with Viognier. If you wish to try McPherson Viognier, you can certainly obtain it here in Big D or out in Lubbock, where you can actually have tastings at both father Doc's Llano Estacado spread and son Kim's McPherson winery and decide for yourself which is better.

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