RECOMMENDED: The White Knight 2008 Viognier, Clarksburg (Central Valley), CA. 13.5% alcohol. Typically $11.

Golden straw in color, this gently aromatic wine is mouth-filling, medium-bodied and dry, with flavors of honey, melon, apple, baking spices, and minerals. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we’ll be serving this with our turkey.

If you’ve never had Viognier, it’s a mixed bag. Some Viogniers have an “oily” texture but a limp taste, making the texture unpleasant. This one? Flavorful and alive, well-balanced, and to describe it quickly it’s kind of in between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. It isn’t as tart, puckering, and “serious” as the Sauvignon Blanc, and not as fruity as the Chardonnay. This Viognier has a citrusy edge, a mineral component, and enough fruit to be interesting.

The White Knight’s slogan is “Saving the world from the tyranny of Chardonnay!” The bottle’s elegant label sports a sword in the upper right corner. Clearly these folks have a sense of humor. Besides The White Knight, The Other Guys’ brands include Hey Mambo, Leese-Fitch, MooBuzz, Pennywise, and Plungerhead. The Leese-Fitch wines are excellent. While this Viognier won’t be everyone’s cup of vino, it is interesting, and it is indeed a nice change from the usual wine fare.

CellarTracker.com tells the interesting story of Viognier. It was nearly extinct 50 years ago, with only 40 acres in France planted in it. The grape is difficult to grow, because it requires just-so conditions. It needs a great deal of sunshine, but if it gets too much heat, it turns into an overblown, hot wine lacking the fresh fruity zing. It likes a certain kind of soil—granite or limestone—but if it isn’t well-drained, forget it.

A few enterprising winegrowers (Yalumba in Australia, and Calera in California, among others) breathed new life into the variety, and it’s now grown worldwide along with its other temperamental soul mates, Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir. Besides having emerged as a prestigious niche varietal, Viognier is often used brilliantly in blends, both red and white.

WINE ENTHUSIAST: Full of minerality on the nose, this tropical Viognier from Clarksburg grapes is dry and acidic, well balanced and not over the top in alcohol (13.5%), a spicy, citrus-laden California Viognier worth trying.

LABEL NOTES: Our Viognier grapes are grown by the Wilson Family in Clarksburg. Surrounded by waterways and drawbridges this appellation resides in the California Delta. Soils of clay and loam produce distinct flavors. The grapes were forged into this noteworthy Viognier, a great addition to your arsenal when challenged with the overwhelming onslaught of Chardonnay. … Vinted and bottled by The Other Guys, Napa, CA 94558, a division of Don Sebastiani & Sons.

WEB SITE NOTES: This exciting and affordable golden colored Viognier is aromatic and forward with white nectarine and key lime zest. … The palate is minerally with wet stone and waxy honeycomb, which then streams into lemon citrus and white pepper flavors. The finish is juicy, but refined, not like many California Viogniers in the sense that they can be perfumed with fruit, but lack little else and fall short on the finish. This is more old world or Condrieu styled with earth, spice, and mineral qualities.

Although this wine sips well all by itself, this Viognier goes well with flavorful winter dishes like cassoulet, duck confit over bitter greens, pot roast over parsnips, beef stew with beets and potatoes, and also potato leek soup.

Alcohol 13.5%
pH 3.79
TA 0.58g/100mLs

2,700 cases made.
www.TOGwines.com

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