Virginie Bourgue brings European touch to her winery in Port Townsend

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 10, 2014 

The winemaking career of Virginie Bourgue began in France and has worked its way in a rather circuitous fashion to its current location in Port Townsend.

Originally from Provence, Bourgue lived and worked in Champagne for four years before coming to the United States in 2002. After a time at Chateau Ste. Michelle and then as winemaker for Bergevin Lane in Walla Walla, she established her own winery in 2007.

Bourgue moved the winery to Port Townsend in 2010, primarily because of its relative proximity to the Seattle area while still allowing her to live in a somewhat rural, small-town atmosphere, which PT (as the locals refer to it), easily provides.

She currently produces a boutique-esque 750 cases a year under two lines, the de Virginie line, and the "Butterfly" line that includes two labels, Lullaby and Lalayee (Persian for "lullaby").

I've been a fan of Virginie's wines for many years and think you'll find them to be very Eurocentric, very clean on the palate, and very much designed to complement food.

2012 Rosé de Virginie ($17) - This blend of mourvèdre and grenache has brisk acidity, but also displays a softer side with gentle flavors of field berries. Try it with fresh crab or clams.

2012 Blanc de Virginie ($22) - This wine, 100 percent sauvignon blanc, is like a palate cleanser in itself. It's a bit green, with pleasant notes of lemongrass, oyster shell, cucumber and a laser-sharp finish.

Non-Vintage Rouge de Virginie ($25) - The combination of merlot and cabernet sauvignon comes from 2009 and 2010; hence the non-vintage date. It features lovely aromatics and flavors of black cherry and blackberry, with a warm, round finish and touches of espresso and cocoa nibs.

2010 Lullaby Viognier ($35) - From Walla Walla's Dwelley Vineyard, this somewhat unique viognier opens with aromatics of lemon chiffon with orange zest on the palate. As it warms, flavors of white peach and apricot come through while the wine maintains a crisp edge. It should pair beautifully with fresh scallops.

As a sweeter alternative, the 2012 Mi Amor Sweet Viognier ($22) is available from the same vineyard.

2010 Lullaby Syrah ($70) - Co-fermented with a touch of viognier, this Walla Walla-based gem opens with flavors of red plum that melt into lingering, complex layers of chocolate and coffee bean, with a dusting of cocoa powder and slightly chewy tannins. In a word: spectacular.

A trip to the Port Townsend tasting room is an easy 90-minute drive from Bellingham to the Coupeville ferry, with reservations recommended for the 35-minute crossing.

Don't expect a fancy facility; the tasting room is spartan, but Virginie is a knowledgeable host and her wines are excellent. For an appointment or distribution information, call 509-386-1324.

The phone number to contact Bourgue was corrected June 14, 2014.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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