I’ve wondered whether the lack of mass success of the Viognier grape is because of the tongue-twisting name(pronounced VEE oh NYAY”) or some other reason. With its luscious, aromatic fruit, slight sweetness and sip-ability, you’d think it would be a girlie girl’s dream and be as popular with the chicks as Moscatos are now (more on that later). But, unlike Moscato/Muscat it’s tough to make Viognier well. Pick it too early in the growing season, you won’t get the pretty aromas and rounded flavors; pick it too late and you’ll get a wine that’s syrupy, flabby or has no acid at all.
Some wineries get it just right though — Bonterra Vineyards in Mendocino County is one of them. In addition to the fact that they farm biodynamically (what is biodynamic?) and organically (starting long before organic was cool), winemaker Robert Blue blends in a ‘lil super fragrant Muscat to woo you even more.
The result is a romantic, richly layered Viognier that still has plenty of acidity backing it up. This full-bodied, almost creamy white teems with tangerine, pineapple, peaches, apricots, almonds, and a smidge of vanilla. But then when you least expect it, a level of crisp acidity settles in, providing a splash of grapefruit and lemon on the finish. The 2010 Bonterra Viognier sports a slight sweetness but the tartness on the finish mellows that a bit. This wine can please both the dry wine lovers as well as the sweet. And at less than $15, that’s no small feat, I might add.
Read about when I visited the Bonterra ranch in Mendocino
Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Price: $10 – $15
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery.
Availability: Online and high end grocery stores
Food pairing: Thai or Indian curry, Spicy Shrimp with Sautéed Fennel, or even triple cream cheeses like Saint Andre