In his blog post, Frank shared that:
- In the 1960′s, Viognier was nearly extinct with only eight acres planted in the Northern Rhone (via Wikipedia) and about 80 acres throughout the world (via Jancis Robinson).
- Viognier is the most-planted white Rhone varietal in the United States
Frank shares other Viognier tidbits on his blog including how to pronounce this delightful white wine.
We were up for the challenge! We even went for the bonus points by tasting not one but TWO very different but both wonderful viogniers:
Zaca Mesa 2009 Estate Grown Viognier under $30 (on sale at Bevmo now for $20)
with a variety of food dishes from beet salad to trout salad to mac n cheese to just plain sour dough bread to oysters to clams.
First off, some basic notes on the wines followed by the wine and food pairs and a recipe for an amazing and colorful roasted beet orange feta walnut salad. We came up with this pair from reading various online sources including this link from Zaca Mesa which suggests mint and feta.
Rosenblum 2008 Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier On the nose, sweet gardenia honeysuckle. Sweet on the front of the palate, finishes tart and savory yet cloying. Notes of cantaloupe with various general melon and some citrus. Sweet but pleasing. Someone who likes sweeter wines would enjoy this.
We were surprised at how much we enjoyed this wine when it was paired with food. We found the sweetness mellowed with the food–the flavors of the food worked better with the sweetness.
Viognier is a challenging grape to make into wine because ripens early–often first–and it lacks acids which makes it sometimes flabby.
While we all thought the Zaca Mesa was superior on our palates, when we paired the two viogniers with the menu, we were impressed at how well Rosenblum showed. It really works well with food and we could imagine it going well with spicy Asian foods while the Zaca Mesa goes better with savory foods like chicken or turkey or duck.
While Zaca Mesa suggests pairing their viognier with seafood like oysters and shellfish, to my palate, the oyster pairs brought out very different but both excellent qualisies but we were mixed over which wine went better with the clams prepared with tomatoes, herbs, garlic, white wine (we used Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay–to be reviewed soon!)
Zaca Mesa 2009 Estate Grown Viognier
This is what we think a viognier should taste like: it stood on its own, with or without food–light, crisp, pleasing, sensuous, balanced.
On the nose, lively, tropical fruit and almonds, and very pleasing–it made you want to just dive in and drink it: and once you did you were not disappointed the wine was fine.
This wine plays well with food; it could stand up to the more bold and stronger flavors of the clams and garlic; we could certainly imagine it with a rosemary chicken or a miso rubbed turkey. The intense flavors of the food did not overpower the wine.
If you were just going for a glass of wine, we’d go with the Zaca Mesa viognier. If you’re looking for a flexible viognier, one that would go with a wide variety of foods, you’re going to be good with either wine.
And now, for your pleasure, the most amazing delish roasted beet salad you can imagine AND that goes fabulously with viognier! Even those who are not fans of beets will be fans of this salad!
1. Roast beets (5-6) in an oven 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
2. Cool, peel, cube beets. (Can be prepared several days in advance).
Add the following:
3. 1/3 cup crumbled sheep’s feta (or more to taste).
4. Segment or cube 1 orange.
5. Juice of 1 orange.
6. 1/3 cup walnuts (roasted or not).
7. 2 or more tablespoons coarsely chopped mint.
8. salt and pepper to taste
Toss and serve!
More recipes to come–including Sue’s Killer Mac n Cheese!
Thanks to Zaca Mesa for the sample and to Jane for the Rosenblum from Bevmo!