Viognier is one of the most celebrated Rhone Varietals, creating a wine that is floral and smooth and ideal for seafood. But we don’t see it as often as we should on the American table. While it’s more planted in California than any other white grape from the Rhone, Viognier accounts for a very small amount of white wine consumed in the U.S., especially when compared to the much more well known varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. And that’s unfortunate, because Viognier is a delicious wine that can bridge the divide between those who love Chardonnay and those who love anything but.
The other great thing about Viognier is that because it flies under the radar of most wine drinkers, unless you’re buying a high-end bottle from the Northern Rhone, this wine is insanely affordable. A region besides California that grows Viognier very well is Chile, so we decided to try one of the more widely available bottles, Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014.
When we purchased the bottle from a nearby wine shop, it was already quite cold, almost too cold, so we let the bottle sit out on the table for about thirty minutes before opening. When we finally did open and pour the wine, the quintessential Viognier aromas of peaches, nectarines, apricots and flowers were immediately present. The perfume was wonderful and that aroma led to delicious flavors of honeysuckle and lemon. The wine had a nice weight to it, which will appeal to Chardonnay lovers, but the bright acidity was still there as well, appealing to those who enjoy a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
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It’s a great wine for a hot day, but it’s even better with a nice piece of grilled fish and a dessert of grilled peaches with a bit of vanilla ice cream. You may not even want to share.