Viognier: In a Class All by its Own or in a Blend: A Gewurztraminer on Sedatives?

Viognier reminds me of, peach, apricots and honey all in a full bodied but not sweet wine. Yes you can find some in Ontario and in British Columbia in Canada with better success in British Columbia. You will find perhaps the best Viognier in Condrieu in the Rhône in France but Australia’s Yalumba Winery produces some excellent Viognier and it has been catching on in California. It is also grown in Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Japan. Yet finding a good variety of producers of Viognier at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is impossible. Chardonnay rules the roost!

So we can try a White Knight from Clarksburg in California a label of giant Don Sabastiani & Sons. Post my comment about Chardonnay above I had a chuckle reading the back label on the bottle that states “Saving the World from the Tyranny of Chardonnay.”

The wine has a light gold colour. On the nose peach, apricot, honey and tangerine in a concentrated beam of delight. Quite like a Gewurztraminer on sedatives. As for the palate there is no doubt that this is a full-bodied wine. As it goes down the hatch there is a certain scratchiness one finds in an Encruzado from the Dão region in Portugal. On the palate peach cobbler, apricots and baked pear. A long spicy finish. Don’t expect Viognier’s to clock in at 12.5% as they usually are higher weighing in like this one at 14.5%.

So how can one summarize the wine? More exciting than most Chardonnays. It is not elegant but forceful and assertive bulldozing mundane whites in its path. Well heeled it is a good sipping wine but with clam linguine in a simple butter, garlic, parsley white wine sauce or chicken breast with tarragon, white wine and cream sauce it meets its bosom buddy.

(The White Knight 2019 Viognier, Clarksburg, California Sebastiani & Sons, Napa, California, $19.95, LCBO # 512764, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).

Les Dauphins Cuvée Spéciale is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Viognier and 10% Marsanne. I am thinking it’s time to batten down the hatches but the only way to know is to taste it. For $13.95 it is a real Penniless Pensioner wine.

The label looks like an old bistro wine label. It’s striking design is warning you this is no delicate and dainty wine.

In colour a light gold. On the nose the Viognier is definitely there but restrained by the Grenache. There is apricot, peach, pineapple and mango. While on the palate the Viognier again is a prisoner of the Grenache but it is definitely there. However the skillful blend is making the Viognier a happy companion with the Grenache. There is pineapple, peach all with precise minerality. A long finish. No need to batten down the hatches as the blend is smooth tasting and impressive irrespective of the price. A bistro should be happy to serve such a wine. A great match for a Croque Monsieur served up by my favourite Manhattan bistro Les Deux Amis. Pleasant enough to be quaffed on its own. It just might suit a Tuna Melt and would do well with pork and poultry. Might I suggest pick up a couple of bottles for Thanksgiving turkey. You may want to make this your summer wine for entertaining but I will say drink by the end of 2022.

(Les Dauphins Cuvée Spéciale 2018, AC Côtes du Rhône, Union des Vignerons Côtes du Rhônes, Tulette, France, $13.95, LCBO # 18600, 13%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 90/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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