WBW #46-White Rhone Varietals

That’s right folks, it’s that time of the month again, WBW! This month, our gracious host is the wonderful Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20. She has set us to the task of picking a wine made from any White Rhone Varietal from anywhere in the world. This left the field wide open for wine from almost anywhere since Rhone varietals are being planted in lots of different places, and it gave a choice of many different grape varieties, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne…

With the task in mind, I went straight to my basement, where many CA Viogniers live. If I had not been traveling for work all last week, I would have been a little more ambitious and tried to compare one of the CA examples to one from the actual Rhone, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, in keeping with the regular theme of Dr. Deb’s blog, I decided to shoot for a wine that under $20!

I chose the 2006 Hannah Nicole Viognier. I purchased this wine from WineQ, it cost me $15.99 (free shipping!), and clocked in at a hefty 15% alcohol by volume. I was a bit thrown off by this high of an alcohol level in a white wine, but in general I don’t have problem with high alcohol in wine so long as the wine remains balanced, as this one did.

On first sniff, I had to laugh. We had a Syrah that had been fermented on Viognier grape skins (complicated, huh?) the other night, and the Hannah Nicole smelled exactly like the Syrah. My nose was all confused having a white wine that smelled exactly like the red we had consumed the night before!

After my initial confusion passed, I found the wine to be very floral. It showed great strong aromas of honeysuckle, pears, and peaches, topped off with a creamy vanilla note. In the mouth the wine was crisp, which I didn’t really expect since it had been aged in new and old oak. The flavors I found were grapefruit, peach, pears, and some other citrus.

The wine was tingly and tart on the front of the palate, while the oak seemed to have given it a creamy feel mid-palate. Overall, I thought this wine was very refreshing, which is not a characteristic I usually associate with an oaked white wine, but I was pleasantly surprised. This was definitely a good value for the $15.99 price I paid for it.

Now, I know Dr. Debs was trying to get us to see the wonderful qualities of White Rhone Varietals for the summer, but I’m already a convert! One of my favorite pairings last years was a Roussanne with fresh crab legs. Though I will highly recommend that you follow her lead and toss a few White Rhone grapes into your drinking line up for the summer!

Many thanks to Dr. Debs for hosting this month, and as usual, I will let you know when the round-up is posted and what next month’s theme is!