Joyful and vivacious with tempting aromas of apricot, white peach and coconut wafting from the glass. Mild and creamy on the palate yet blossoming forth with bright stone-fruit enhanced by a sprinkling of spice, fresh minerality and tongue-tingling crispness.
Yes, we’re speaking of the Creation Viognier, a wine reminiscent of a walk through the Creation fynbos garden in springtime. Or Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto!
Viognier (pronounced vee-yoh-n’yay) is believed to be an ancient variety first brought to Central and Western Europe from Croatia in Roman times. Genetically it is a cousin of Nebbiolo and closely related to the lesser known Piedmont grape, Freisa.
The cultivar has become increasingly popular in South Africa over latter years with production escalating accordingly. Creation was the first in the Hemel-en-Aarde to plant this grape and also the first to bottle a single-variety Viognier. With great success: since the release of the first vintage (2009) accolades have been streaming in. Worldwide applause included that of Olly Smith in his famous wine column in the London Daily Mail. He selected the 2013 Creation Viognier as his ‘Pick of the Bunch’, describing it as: “A real find from a cool climate . . . it’s got a glittering freshness as bright as a diamond . . . pure peachy and irresistible . . .”.
Among the latest top scores allocated to the Creation Viognier are 90 points for the 2015 vintage by Tim Atkin, British Master of Wine and international wine judge, 90 points for the 2015 vintage by the leading wine critic Neal Martin, and 91 points for the 2016 vintage by Jamie Goode, renowned British author and wine columnist. The wine also won Grand Gold at the 2016 South African Wine Index (SAWi) Awards.
The secrets to this success? The Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge provides a perfect terroir: the cool winds from the Atlantic Ocean during the ripening phase allow slow physiological ripening which means ripe skins. This in turn means that Creation’s Viognier is without the metallic character associated with Viognier made from grapes with unripe skins and too high a sugar content. Climbing the slopes of Babylon Toren Mountain, the estate’s vineyards are planted at altitudes of between 220 and 290 m above sea level, only 9 km from the cold Atlantic Ocean. Each vineyard site has been carefully selected for its suitability to a particular variety – for instance, the coolest, south-facing slopes are ideal for the cultivation of Viognier.
According to winemaker-viticulturist Jean-Claude (JC) Martin the cooler climate at Creation allows the Viognier to gain a very good flavour profile at a late stage of ripening. Ripeness brings a distinctive aromatic character evident in the white peach and floral notes associated with the wine. “The grapes are picked at good levels of acidity, imparting lovely freshness to the wine. The Creation Viognier maintains a good acid structure and base minerality, leaving it crisp and vibrant.”
To preserve the purity of the varietal, the wine is not fermented in oak barrels, but only in stainless steel. Six to 12 hours skin contact is allowed and the wine is kept for 6 to 8 months before bottling.
The florally notes in the Creation Viognier make the wine a charming companion to flowers. Creation pairing fundi Carolyn Martin loves pairing the wine with jasmine, adding a touch of the exotic. The purity of fruit makes this wine especially suited to Asian foods like chicken laksa or Thai green curry. It does however also make music with fruity desserts such as the sensational Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake, Naartjie and Saffron Compote, Turmeric Latte and Coconut Foam recently created by the Creation Culinary Team. The citrus beautifully offsets the stone fruit in the wine, the saffron and turmeric harmonise with the sprinkling of spice while the latte with coconut foam finds its match in the creamy character and hint of coconut in the wine. Click here for the recipe.
Sometimes referred to as ‘the Goddess of Spice’, the wine also serves as a fantastic foil to the fragrant, aromatic spices of traditional curried fish which highlights the freshness and minerality of the cool-climate Creation Viognier. Click here for a delightful recipe.