2019 Viognier Reviews Vineyards Past Vintages

Vineyard Source

Red Willow, Yakima Valley
Olsen, Yakima Valley


100% Viognier



Release Date

March 30, 2020


480 cases

Download Tasting Notes PDF

Winemaking Notes

"The 2019 viognier spent 6 months being aged in 75% used French oak, 15% concrete egg and 10% new French oak. The used oak component offers great mouthfeel. The concrete delivers exceptional mouthfeel, like an oak barrel, with beautifully clean aromatics, like stainless steel. The addition of new French oak adds subtle layers of sweet barrel spice with increased depth and texture on the palate. Hand harvested between September 13th and September 28th, 2019 the wine is fermented dry over a period of 3 months at very low temperatures. Keeping the fermentation temperature low helps preserve the delicate aromatics found in viognier. During this time the wine is gently stirred to suspend the lees and improve the mouthfeel. The wine is tasted on a weekly basis. When the winemaking team feels the time is right malolactic fermentation is halted and the wine is gently fined and filtered into tank."



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(91-93) points, Jeb Dunnuck

"The 2018 Viognier is a fresh, lively example of Viognier that has clean, classic characteristics of apricots, white flowers, and honeysuckle. Medium-bodied, with good acidity and balance, it builds nicely with time in the glass and is another terrific example of this variety from Washington State."


Red Willow 

Red Willow vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in the state, a true Washington pioneer. Owned and operated by Mike Sauer, his wife Karen, sons Jonathan and Daniel, and son-in-law Rick Willsey, Red Willow remains a family operation. The vineyard is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation, on steep south-facing slopes in the Cascade foothills, in the Yakima Valley AVA. The first wine grapes were planted in 1973 under the direction of Dr. Walt Clore. In 1981 the Sauer family planted Les Vignes de Marcoux less than ¾ of a mile to the west of Red Willow. We have been fortunate enough to begin working with fruit from Les Vignes de Marcoux in 2008 and with fruit from Red Willow in 2010. Fruit from the Marcoux vineyard tends to have a deeper, more primary fruit character. Red Willow represents classical non-fruit qualities with beautiful balance and grace. 


Leif Olsen's Yakima Valley AVA vineyard consistently produces some of the highest quality and most sought after grapes in the region. The first vines were planted in 1980, with the most recent planting in 2005. Vines sprawl over 800 acres over a wide variety of slopes, aspects, and elevations. Viognier, Syrah, and Petit Verdot are sourced from Olsen for Mark Ryan Winery wines. Mark and Mike have also collaborated with Leif to plant 7 acres of high density Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre on ancient soils at 1200-1300 feet of elevation which will come to fruition in 2016.


Wine Advocate

2014: 90 PointsThe team here fashions an outstanding Viognier, and the 2014 Viognier is no exception. Coming from Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow and Olsen Vineyards and aged in 7% neutral barrels, 16% in stainless and the rest in concrete eggs, it's a lively, juicy racy Viognier that has lots of white flowers, subtle minerality and green citris in its medium-bodied, nicelt balanced and refreshing personality. Drink it over the coming 3-5 years

2013: 90-92 Points: The 2013 Viognier (tasted as a barrel sample) offers up beautiful aromas of ripe peach, pineapple, honeysuckle and hints of flowers to go with a medium-bodied, fresh, pure and elegant style on the palate. Possessing classic Viognier character, drink it over the coming 2-3 years.

2012: 92 PointsEven better than the 2011, the 2012 Viognier (100% Viognier aged in a combination of used French oak, stainless steel and concrete) has additional richness and depth, with knockout apricot, peach, citrus rind and minerality all emerging from the glass. This medium-bodied white builds on the palate, yet stays pure, clean and focused through the finish. Showing a great mix of both richness and freshness, it’s a great value and should be enjoyed over the coming 2-3 years.

2011: 91 PointsThe only white produced here, Mark’s 2011 Viognier (100% Viognier aged in used French oak and stainless steel) offers up fresh, crisp and pure aromas of buttered pear, orange blossom, green almond and mineral to go with a medium-bodied, racy, yet surprisingly rich palate. Building in richness with air, yet never losing its overall juicy, very fresh profile, it will be versatile on the dinner table.

2010: 91 PointsPooling fruit from Ciel du Cheval and Red Willow, McNeilly’s 2010 Viognier was vinified in older barrels with a small contingent of stainless “barrels” and underwent a partial malo-lactic conversion. Iris and acacia, fresh lime and peach make for a fetching nose, then reconvene for an at one caressing and refreshing as well as stimulatingly bitter palate performance, leading to a resonant, vibrant, glowing finish to which hints of white pepper contribute invigoration. Here is more delicious evidence for my steadily strengthening belief that the best wines being rendered from Viognier anywhere on earth may well be coming from Washington. I’d be interested to see how this superb value evolves in bottle but lack experience of a track record. 

2009: 90 PointsThe current collection contains one white wine, the 2009 Viognier sourced from the Conner Lee and Ciel du Cheval Vineyards. The wine was fermented in neutral French oak (94%) and 6% stainless steel. Fragrant mineral, floral, and pit fruit aromas inform the nose of a creamy-textured, flavorful, nicely balanced Viognier that will continue to provide pleasurable drinking for several more years. 

2008: 90 PointsThe light gold-colored 2008 Viognier was fermented in 53% neutral French oak and 47% stainless steel. The alluring bouquet offers up baking spices, minerals, honey, and peach. Medium-bodied, on the palate it displays plenty of spice, savory white fruits buttressed by vibrant acidity, and a pure, lingering finish.

2007: 91 PointsThe 2007 Viognier was sourced from two premier vineyards. Medium straw-colored, it exhibits an alluring bouquet of peach, apricot, mineral, and floral notes. This leads to an expansive, concentrated, full-flavored Viognier buttressed by crisp acidity and a fruit-filled finish. It is one of the best examples of Viognier from my recent tastings in Washington. 

2006: 90 Points: Ciel du Cheval Vineyard: The 2006 Viognier “Ciel du Cheval Vineyard” was whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented in used oak It offers a spicier nose than its sibling and a bit more focus from higher acidity. Intense on the palate, it delivers plenty of tasty peach and apricot flavors leading to a long, pure finish.

2006: 89 Points: Conner Lee Vineyard: The 2006 Viognier “Conner Lee Vineyard” was stainless steel fermented with some whole clusters and some grapes crushed and pressed. It has an excellent bouquet of honeysuckle, peach, and apricot. This leads to a fleshy wine with a viscous palate feel but with a sense of restraint. It has excellent balance and length.

Wine Enthusiast

2012: 91 PointsThis satiny, slightly waxy Viognier is a blend from Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow and Olsen fruit; for the first time, roughly 10% was fermented in a concrete egg. Aromatic with yellow apples, lemon curd, bee pollen and floral highlights, it’s underscored with a lick of wet stone.

2011: 92 PointsHere’s the latest in a long line of smooth, silky, fruit-laden Viogniers from Mark Ryan. Citrus and lemongrass roll into fleshier flavors of tree fruits. One month in neutral oak rounds out the mouthfeel, and the mix of vineyards—Ciel du Cheval, Red Willow and Olsen—is terrific.

2010: 91 PointsSmooth and silky, this lovely Viognier begins with flavors of citrus, lemongrass and fresh herb, before continuing into a well-rounded, full-flavored midpalate that hints at just a touch of residual sugar.

2009: 93 PointsConsistent with past years, this is a vivacious, lip-smacking style of Viognier, with a mix of fruits that goes from grapefruit into papaya, and just about everything in between. Wonderful minerality, persistence, and citrus rind phenolics.

2008: 93 PointsThe wine offers exceptional richness, without heaviness. It feels loaded with thick fruit, and yet there is nothing fat, oily or bitter in play. The lush fruits include a mix of citrus, pineapple, mandarin orange and peach, with some cool-climate minerality and even a hint of tonic seeping through.

2007: 92 PointsIt’s lush, leesy and rich, and broadcasts a flavorful mix of grapefruit, orange peel, Meyer lemon, hints of pineapple, Key lime pie and peach, all in a very creamy style. The wine is graceful and smooth, the fruit detailed with hints of toasted almond and cracker.

2006: 92 Points: Conner Lee Vineyard: This concentrated wine leads with citrus and stone fruits, and a lightly peppery mouthfeel. Leesy and creamy and textural, it’s generously loaded with flavors of lime and grapefruit, stone and fresh herb. This is a subtle and very refreshing Viognier.

2006: 90 Points: Ciel du Cheval Vineyard: Complex Asian pear and citrus fruit is nicely detailed with notes of orange rind, fennel and spice. The fruit is perfectly ripe, round and fleshy. The acids are natural and the alcohol has been kept to just under 14%.

2005: 93 PointsThis wine goes right to the top of the heap to stand with the best Washington viogniers. The fruit is from Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain, and winemaker Mark McNeilly has framed it in his own distinctive style. Big but not heavy, lush and textural, it’s slathered in flavors of pear and caramel, with a lightly honeyed finish. Just 100 cases were produced.

Wine Spectator: 

2010: 90 PointsRipe, spicy flavors play against a lively, deftly balanced frame, offering creamy pear, spice and lime notes that linger easily on the finish.

2009: 88 PointsSupple and round, with a welcome restraint to the pear and honeydew flavors, picking up hints of pumpkin seed and spice on the finish.

2007: 89 PointsLithe, supple and inviting, this creamy-textured dry white has ripe pear, lychee and melon flavors, lingering gently. Nicely done. 

2006: 89 Points: Conner Lee Vineyard: Ripe and tangy, with floral, lychee and pear aromas and flavors, finishing dry, generous and long.

2006: 88 Points: Ciel du Cheval Vineyard: Broad and spicy, with a baseline of ripe pear and grapefruit flavors and hints of green olive and floral notes as the finish lingers.