Saturday, April 30, 2011

Putting the "Yay" back in Viognier

Viognier is a tricky little grape; almost as tricky to pair with food as it is to pronounce (Vee-own-YAY). The difficulty arises in the low acidity. Acidity is what cleanses the palate after each sip, and what compliments the flavors in your favorite cuisine. Wines without much of their own must be paired with foods high in acid in order to be successful. A Viognier is great with salad, fruit, or hard cheese, but try it with a rich, creamy alfredo sauce and you'll have a flabby-tasting disaster on your hands.

But the River Aerie Viognier from Washington's Columbia Valley is uniquely high in acidity - for the varietal, anyway. This isn't extremely surprising when you think about it, because high acidity tends to be a trademark characteristic of Washington wines. It's part of the reason I like them so much. I had it with some (granted, quite acidic) pizza and while it may not have been a perfect pairing, it was certainly serviceable.

The aromas were pretty standard for Viognier, in that they were predominantly floral. But instead of the usual intense perfume, the honeysuckle and gardenia bouquet was supported by some tempting scents of juicy peach. The palate was more perfumey than the nose, and very much what a Viognier should be: like a walk through the garden. Honeysuckle and gardenia return, along with lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, and seductive nerula. The finish became fruity, with peach and succulent pineapple and a charming, grassy finish.

All in all, a rather delightful little bottle. Perfect for porch-sipping on a sunny spring Saturday like today. 

Date: 3/27/11
Wine: River Aerie
Grapes: Viognier
Vintage: 2006
ABV: 14.1%
Origin: Columbia Valley, Washington
Color: light gold
Nose: peach, honeysuckle, gardenia
Palate: still very perfumey and floral up front, jasmine, nerula - finish on peach and pineapple and grass.
Price: $8

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