Congeniality: /kən jēnēəl ədē/ The quality of being pleasant and enjoyable; very friendly. It’s a word that’s become attached to Sandra Bullock and beauty pageants, thanks to the Miss Universe contest and the monster hit Miss Congeniality, and not so much to wine. But, really, this review could stop here and you would understand why this is an excellent wine on that word alone. The 2014 WORKMAN AYER Ipso Facto is 100% Viognier from Santa Barbara County, a region of California’s central coast that has been so consistently reliable for this white wine variety whose origins are France’s Rhone Valley. Viognier is a rather chameleon-like white (that is an oxymoron, I’m aware). It’s fascinating how many shades of white a great Viognier can pull off . . . just compare the high-end Viogniers of the undisputed French Viognier master, Condrieu, to those coming out of Australia to those made in Santa Barbara, USA—it’s a most unpredictable wine, in the best sense of the word.
Soft, muted notes of Asian pear, orchard fruit, honey, lemon custard, citrus zest and honeydew is the sort of pleasantry you’re in for with the Ipso Facto. Clean and supple on the palate, this is a sipper for an enjoyable day by the lake, ocean, pool . . . you know, wherever you plan on having a congenial time with congenial people in your life. There’s brightness and warmth to this Viognier’s texture, so expect to be in a happy mood that lasts a while. And after the sun sets, if you’ve got some left, bring the bottle over to the dinner table because a really good Viognier is always classy and a really pleasant companion to food.
And there you have it, in a nutshell: congeniality. –J.M.
Mainly available at the winery: