Cailloux Vineyard Viognier
1999 - 2007, 2011 - 2017, 2019 - Present
Professional reviews and tasting notes from prior vintages added as published (Scores within parentheses indicate barrel samples):
A layered nose of wet stone, cardamom, pink grapefruit and a hint of fennel seed. Medium-bodied and very well balanced. Ground white pepper colors the floral and warm citrus on the palate. Wet stone comes through at the finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink now. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
97 Points. In my opinion one of the greatest Viogniers from the New World, Christophe's 2019 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard reveals a medium gold hue as well as a stunning, Condrieu-like nose of tangerines, flower oil, chalky minerality, white flowers, and honeyed toast. This carries to a medium to full-bodied, pure, incredibly elegant Viognier with flawless balance, loads of texture and richness, yet a weightless, lengthy, seamless texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. Hats off to this team for an incredible white! It should drink nicely for 3-4 years and, I suspect, have a gradual decline after that. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
The 2019 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard is a limited-production bottling (157 cases) that was aged in concrete and stainless steel prior to bottling. The wine shows a silky texture with wonderful honeysuckle water, lychee, honeydew melon, wet stone and green papaya. The sense of texture and length of the wine is truly outstanding. Finesse-driven and glorious in its youth, it has some really good aging potential. Up there with the best white wines of the Pacific Northwest. —Owen Bargreen, Vinous
Coming from the first Viognier vines planted in Walla Walla Valley in 1997, this wine always captures the distinctiveness of this region of the valley, with plentiful wet stone aromas and flavors. Along with them are notes of white peach and flower. There's ripeness but also deftness, precision, and freshness. A long, long stone fruit and wet stone-filled finish separates this completely enchanting offering. —Sean Sullivan, Wine Enthusiast
93 Points. Farmed with a biodynamic approach since 2002, the 2019 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard opens to a beautifully expressive nose of peach blossom, baked apples, juicy Bosc pear, cereal grain, honeysuckle and dusty white roses. Medium-bodied, the wine displays an elegant texture with a slightly waxy mouthfeel that’s food-friendly and delightful before showing a kiss of phenolic bitterness across the mid-palate. Concluding with a long-lingering and subtly spiced finish, persistent nuances of jasmine, yellow apple skin and mandarin orange flutter on the aftertaste. —Anthony Mueller, The Wine Advocate
95 Points. The 2017 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard was fermented in a mix of concrete and stainless steel, and was brought up with no oak, which is a stylistic change that started in 2010 or 2011. It has beautiful purity and freshness, with attractive tart pineapple, pear, white flower, and a gorgeous salinity on the finish. Medium-bodied, so pure and seamless, it’s a thrilling Viognier. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
(94) Points. The 2016 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard from Baron reminds me of one of the single vineyard Condrieus from winemaker Andre Perret in France’s Northern Rhône Valley. Killer notes of caramelized citrus, orange blossom and salty minerality all flow to a ripe, medium to full-bodied, concentrated beauty that has good acidity, plenty of richness, yet a light, balanced character. Drink it over the coming 2-4 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
94 Points. Baron now opts to ferment his Viognier in concrete eggs and stainless steel after a very gentle whole cluster pressing, eschewing new oak, and the result is fresher, brighter wines, a shift exemplified by the 2016 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard. Offering up notions of fresh peach, apricot, waxy lemon rind and flowers, it's a full-bodied, textural and expansive white with lovely precision despite its volume and a stony, almost saline finish. — William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
95 Points. I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Viognier from this estate is the best example of the variety in the United States, and the 2015 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard does nothing to change my opinion. It’s flat out gorgeous and exhibits notes of white flowers, white fruits and just hints of telltale apricot and honey with time in the glass. Medium-bodied, ultra pure and fresh, yet with depth and texture, hats off to the team here for this smokin’ good Viognier. It’s one of the few that would stand up to the best coming from the northern Rhône valley. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
92 Points. Aromas of sliced apples, lemon and lilac. Stones, too. Medium-bodied, dense and balanced with mineral and green-peach undertones. No wood. Nice lees-stirring character. Drink now. —James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
94 Points. What I think might be one of the finest Viogniers made in the New World, the 2014 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard offers a sensational, Condrieu-like bouquet of white flowers, tangerine, citrus and hints of apricot. Brought up in a mix of concrete tanks, stainless steel and neutral barrels, drink this medium-bodied, fresh, gorgeously layered white over the coming 4-5 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
93 Points. I think one of the greatest Viognier's coming out of the US is Baron's Cailloux Vineyard. The 2013 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard offers terrific citrus blossom, stone fruits, white flowers and seashell notes in a classy, vibrant and racy style. It doesn't have the flesh or richness of a top Condrieu, but it has fabulous purity and length. Drink it over the coming 2-3 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
93 Points. The 2012 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard is a knockout that will compete with the best examples of this variety coming out of both Washington and California. Aged all in concrete, without blocking any malolactic fermentation, it offers fabulously clean, pure notes of tangerine, citrus, white peach and flowers to go with a medium-bodied, juicy, yet layered and textured profile on the palate. It’s superb and will drink nicely for 4-5 years. —Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
93 Points. One of the best examples of the variety coming out of Washington, the 2011 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard (vinified all in concrete) offers up a decidedly pure, clean profile of white peach, citrus rind, liquid mineral and hints of white flowers. Starting out firm and even slightly lean, it blossoms with air to show a medium to full-bodied, gorgeously textured palate that stays remarkably precise and focused. Impressive all around, this beauty will continue to drink nicely for 3-4 years (although bottles wouldn’t last that long in my house). Drink now-2017.
–Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
92-93 Points. Vinified in a concrete egg and tasted there and again from stainless steel holding tank just prior to its August bottling, Baron’s 2011 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard is redolent of acacia and honeysuckle along with lime and orange zests, though also of pungent floral and white pepper notes reminiscent of Roussanne or even of Riesling from Austrian Urgestein. On a silken, subtly creamy, and expansive yet uncannily buoyant palate, bittersweet floral and nippy pepper and zest notes segue into suggestions of crushed stone and somehow crystalline mineral matter in a white peach matrix. This finishes with tongue-tingling energy, dynamic interplay, and lasting sheer refreshment. “The quality of the pressing is really important,” notes Baron apropos the danger for this variety’s inherently pronounced phenolics to get bitterly out of hand. The texture here especially fascinates me, and I suspect that relatively high acidity and the vinification in concrete created a situation in which the effect of lees contact is really positively felt, and there is none of the overt oiliness one more usually associates with Viognier. Those with patience should follow some for at least 4-5 years, as my contemporaneous exposure to some older vintages made clear... –David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate
94 Points. There is one white wine in the Cayuse collection, the 2007 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard sourced from tiny yields (a recurring theme here) of 1.5 tons per acre. The wine was barrel-fermented in 20% new oak. Medium gold-colored, it offers up an alluring perfume of pit fruit and tropical aromas. Ripe, round, and vibrant on the palate, this layered, plush effort is all about pleasure. It will match well with even the richest of fish and shellfish preparations. There is simply no reason to defer one’s gratification; drink it over the next 3 years. –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate
96 Points. The 2006 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard was produced from minuscule yields of 1.2 tons of fruit per acre. It was whole cluster fermented. The wine is remarkably rich, with intense minerality, apricot, peach, and tropical fruits. The finish goes on and on. There may be two or three producers in Condrieu who can make a Viognier of this quality but only in a great vintage. –Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate
93 Points. “This is the first time in years that I’ve revisited any of these,” noted Baron as we tasted his 2005 Viognier Cailloux Vineyard as part of our mini-vertical. Back then, his sole white was still raised entirely in barrique. Pungent notes of mustard seed and lentil sprout on the nose are unique in my experience of this grape, but dovetail with the more familiar white pepper and citrus zest that are also present. Violet, buddleia, and lavender add to the aromatic allure, persisting inner mouth as accompaniment to fresh apricot, whose fuzz seems to add to the vibratory tactile intensity of a sustained, mouthwatering finish. The combination of levity (amazing for a wine of 14.2% alcohol) and subtly silken texture with invigorating impingement of zests, sprouts, seeds, fuzz, and mineral matter is disarmingly lovely. I’ve tasted a lot of French and American Viognier – including, of course, Condrieu – in my long career, and, for me, this is about as fascinating, delicious, and age-worthy as that cepage gets. It’s probably best to assume that any bottles ought to be drunk within the next year or so; that said, this did hold up surprisingly well for a day from the open bottle, at which point I was grateful for the opportunity to actually drink some! –David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate
94 Points. Cayuse produces one white wine. The 2005 Viognier “Cailloux Vineyard” coats the glass with glycerin as it releases its expressive, nearly flamboyant perfume of honeysuckle, apricot, peach, and mineral. Viscous on the palate, full-bodied and rich, it is balanced by excellent acidity leading to a very long, fruit-filled finish. It blows away the domestic competition and stylistically is reminiscent of Guigal “La Doriane” Condrieu. Drink this dramatic wine over the next 2-3 years.
–Jay Miller, The Wine Advocate
91 Points. Unfiltered appearance. Apricot, peach, pineapple and a whiff of smoky oak on the nose. Juicy, spicy and dry but rich, with a clinging texture and flavors of hazelnut and citrus zest. This initially showed limited primary fruit but developed a strong peach nectar quality with extended aeration. Very tactile and very long on the aftertaste. Serious stuff.
–Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar
91 Points. Pale color. Knockout nose combines white peach, minerals, violet, rose petal and dusty stone, with hints of smoke and tropical fruits; more Condrieu than most Condrieu. Supple, stony and dry, with captivating flavors of apricot and peach nectar and white and green peppercorn. Very broad but uncompromisingly dry. Coats the palate with dusty extract. Impressive American viognier.
–Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar
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