Category Archives: Viognier

Flagstone 2012 “Noon Gun” white blend

43% Chenin Blanc, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Viognier, 1% Nouvelle; 13.0% ABV
Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
imported by Accolade Wines North America, Napa, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store.  Still there.

This wine has interested me since it arrived a while ago, especially after the Rustenburg white was pretty tasty, but I am getting to it only now.  It’s also quite good.

It has a pleasant nose of yellow peach / pear and white pear / melon.  On the palate, the wine shows these flavors with some yellow and white floral character, some less ripe green lime, bitterness of citrus pith and grape skin that is close to a light minerality.  Anyway, if you liked the Rustenberg white, you’ll probably like this one, too.  For me, it’s a Thumbs Up.

My hesitation about this wine was that it would be too old.  The first day, I thought it was not showing its age at all, but the second day, it did show a tinge of oxidation.  Otherwise, however, it was still quite tasty the second day, with more forward yellow tropical fruit, still balanced with the same minerality and bitterness.

About the grape Nouvelle, this site had this to say:

Nouvelle – This grape, a crossing of Semillon and Crouchen Blanc (better known as Cape Riesling), was developed in South Africa by Professor CJ Orffer of Stellenbosch University. While plantings remain tiny they are increasing, mainly for inclusion in blends. It produces wines with a strong grassy, green peppery character.

The next day…


Rustenberg 2014 Sauvignon Blanc blend

58% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Chardonnay, 9% Viognier; 13% ABV
Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
$4 at the Richmond, Ca, store.  Gone now.

rustenberg_2014_whiteblendSorry to take a while getting to this; it was one of a couple white wines sitting in my fridge while I got over my cold.  Anyway, I think this is a nice wine for the money if any of it is still around.

I was intrigued by the blend, because I have noticed yellow tropical fruit flavors in SA SB that I haven’t in SB from anywhere else, and I thought the blend with Chardonnay and especially Viognier could be very nice.  The wine was indeed quite well made.  The nose showed yellow melon / apple, less ripe green melon, and some light yellow peach / apricot.  The palate is clean, gently crisp, and slightly minerally, with the ripe fruit flavors on the nose plus slight tropical fruit (mostly golden kiwi), balanced by some bitterness of citrus pith and grape skin.  The blend is seamless, although to me the wine is a bit intellectual rather than yummy.

The next day, however, the wine is definitely also yummy, with the sweetly ripe fruit coming forward over the bitterness, still elegantly blended and reasonably structured.

Praxis 2013 Viognier

Sonoma County, CA; 14.1% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 July

Praxis_2013_ViognierAs usual, I was excited to see a Viognier arrive, and was, as ever, hopeful it would be good.  This one is not an exceptional example of the varietal, but it is a decently tasty Viognier for the price, made in a more reserved and structured style.

While I thought the wine showed a bit of yellow apple and lemon that reminded me more of Chardonnay, there is also a good bit of (what I think of as) more typical Viognier flavors: yellow peach / apricot, white peach / peach pit, with a bit of melon rind acid making it on the crisp side.  With more air and warmth (than fresh from the fridge), the fruit softens some to become more balanced, a really quite enjoyable wine for the price.  The next day it was much the same.

There have been a few wines lately, this one included, which I think are probably pretty good wines for the price, but just not that much to my liking.  In this style of crisp and structured wines that I wasn’t that into, we’ve had the Trivento “Amado Sur” Torrontés, the Errazuriz “Max Reserva” Sauvignon Blanc, and the Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône.  Certainly these wines have been popular enough at the Richmond store, with the exception so far of the CdR, which might be because it’s $7, slightly pricey for the GO.    So… has anyone out there been fans of these wines, who wants to tell me about them, to expand my horizons a little?  🙂

Trivento 2013 “Amado Sur” Torrontés blend

80% Torrontés, 10% Viognier, 10% Chardonnay; 13,5% ABV
Mendoza, Argentina
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 June

TriventoAmadoSur_2013_TorrontesBlendThis wine, with its delicate yellow – green color, interesting blend, and low price, was an immediate buy for me.  I didn’t like it as much as I had expected to, but it is an interesting, complex wine.

The nose of less ripe peach, melon, green apple and jasmine / honeysuckle is immediately appealing.  On the palate, the wine tastes of a little bit of yellow apple / melon before becoming dominated by less ripe green and white melon, white peach, and green apple with a little tropical fruit (golden kiwi (yellow) / soursop (white)), finishing with a thicker minerality.  There is a moderate amount of bitterness of melon rind / grapeskin, and the acid is quite crisp.  The texture is slightly fleshy, typical of Torrontés.

The next day, the flavors were much better integrated, but the fleshiness, minerality and assertive complexity had all declined.  It was pretty good both days, though.  It would be good with lighter seafood dishes such as white fish, crab, shellfish.

I found this very interesting wine, but not an easy wine to love, so for me only Drinkable.  For those of you particularly enamored with the more acid European wine styles, this is probably a Thumbs Up.

Chateau Julien 2014 “French Kiss” white

Chenin Blanc and Viognier; 13% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 20 May

ChateauJulien_2014_FrenchKissWhiteThe back label of this tasty-sounding blend describes it as “crisp.”  Alas, it is not so.  Instead, it is quite fruity and sweet.  While the flavors are typical and quite yummy — yellow honeysuckle, juicy white peach, fragrant white pear —  I found the whole thing a bit cloying, without enough balancing acid by a long shot.

Parmalee-Hill 2012 and 2014 “Darcy”

Sonoma Valley AVA, CA; 14.4% ABV

2102 Vintage: Grenache Blanc 40%, Viognier 28%, Roussanne 16%, Marsanne 16%
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store around 29 February

ParmaleeHill_2012_DarcyOn the day I opened these wines, neither one showed very well.  They were nicely structured, but not showing much fruit.

On the second day, the 2012 had a full, fruity and floral nose, tasting of honey, white melon / pear, green melon, jasmine, with at times what struck me as a slight fishiness (???, not really in a bad way, though).  The body is fairly full and textured.  I’m sorry notes are not very good, but I think this is very good wine for the price.  My only possible criticism is that folks who like more acid may be disappointed here.

2014 Vintage: Grenache Blanc 40%, Roussanne 22%, Marssanne 22%, Viognier 16%
$8 at the Oakland, CA, store on 8 March

ParmaleeHill_2014_DarcyJust skipping to the second day: This wine was less aromatic, lighter-bodied, and more acid than the 2012.  It had a nose of yellow peach, jasmine, yellow lemon and a little green lime.   There was more of that on the palate, plus some white / green / yellow melon, grape skin bitterness, and a little viscosity.  Overall, this wine is lighter and seems less substantial, and more acid than the 2012, which I preferred.  However, they are both nice and sophisticated wines for the price.

What I liked best was a blend of about 2/3 of the 2012, for its fuller body and flavor, and 1/3 of the 2014 for its yellower fruit and greater acid.  This blend was still quite tasty on the third day.  🙂

Mil Piedras 2013 Viognier

Mendoza, Argentina; 14% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store a few weeks ago

MilPiedras_2013_ViognierI recently liked pretty well the Argentinian Budeguer Chardonnay, which I found to be an interesting version of the grape.  It had some ripe fruit, but also crisp acid and minerally structure.  I was hoping this would would be a similar version of Viognier, and my verdict is, “Well, sort of…”  🙂

The fruit certainly shows Viognier’s yellow peach, and some white / light yellow melon, elegantly integrated with fairly crisp acid and a little minerality.  I think the wine would be quite good except for a noticeable excess of stemmy bitterness.  It wasn’t too bad, but it did stop me from thinking it was really tasty.

The next day, I liked it a little better, with the fruit more forward and balancing of the bitterness, but still was not something I was wild about.

Marvelous 2011 Rhone-style red

Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
83% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 5% Viognier, 3% Mourvèdre; 14.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store in the last week or so

Marvelous_2011_RhoneBlendAt opening, this wine showed quite simple, light red cherry fruit with a little sweetness of oak.  After 1.5 – 2 hours in a decanter, the fruit darkens and becomes more complex, becoming dominated by flavors of boysenberry / blackberry, less ripe blueberry, and black earth / pepper, still in a lighter body, and still with the artificial-tasting sweetness of cheap oak flavor.  (I think what I have been objecting to as “American Oak” is actually wood chips thrown into the wine or something called liquid oak extract.)  The wine is yummy enough for easy drinking, but I wasn’t that fond of it.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was smoother richer, more integrated, but otherwise about the same.

Fable 2010 “Jackal Bird” white blend

54% Chenin Blanc, 17% Roussanne, 13% Grenache Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Viognier, 1% Clairette Blanc; 14.0% ABV
Wine of Origin Western Cape, South Africa
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 Sept

JackalBird_2010_FableThe blend in this wine looked very interesting and the low price sealed the deal.  It is indeed very good!

At first opening, the wine is a bit tightly wound, showing very elegant yellow and white fruit embedded in a minerally structure.  However, after a little bit being open, and especially as it warms from fridge temperature, the fruit comes out into a very nice blend showing flavors of yellow apple and melon, a little lemon, a little tropical yellow fruit (golden kiwi?), white melon / maybe pear, with a minerally finish.  It was at times a little disjoint, but it seems substantial enough that it might be better the next day.

That’s indeed the case, as the wine is much better integrated and more overtly delicious the second day, with the flavors very much the same and still showing some minerality on the finish.  Overall, a big Thumbs Up for this one.

Altivo Barrel Selection 2010 Chardonnay/Viognier Finca Eugenio Bustos $3.99

World Wine HQ
13% ABV
Purchased: Corvallis, OR 11-7-2014 (during wine sale).

IMG_0705Next up is the last of my World Wine HQ bottles and the only white from them that I purchased. This is going to be a short review…”just the facts, ma’am” style.


Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza (1,050 m asl)
:Chardonnay 60% / Viognier 40% 
: 2010
: 13,0% vol.
: 5,5 g/l as Tartaric acid
Residual sugar: 
Less than 4 g/l
pH: 3,3


Fermentation: 15 days at 16 ºC in barrels and stainless steel tanks.
Maceration period
: N/A.
Malolactic Fermentation: 30%.
Aging Time: 30% of the blend in French oak barrels during 3 to 6 months.

Color is a pale yellow straw.
Nose: Pineapple, peach and there is an almost fermented pear making itself known in the fragrance.
Taste: I believe Lim would classify this as off-dry. To me (remembering that I’m super sensitive to sugars in wine) it’s just too sweet (and I’m sure it is not a sweet wine but it’s too far off dry for my palate). Initial taste is crisp and the wine shows up front with tart pears but it isn’t in the mouth for more than a couple of seconds before a sweet peach syrup intrudes. The taste & body I find to be more like a Pinot Gris than a Chardonnay. I do not taste Viognier at all (sad too, I really am fond of Viognier). The wine presents itself more like an un-oaked wine, for those who prefer that style. It tastes young and acidic on one hand and something like a peach mimosa on the other hand.

I believe Pinot Gris lovers would really enjoy this one, it’s very much in line with that style/taste. Parker gave this wine an 87 points, for those that follow his scoring.

I forgot to include Bargainwhine’s review of the 2009 version of this wine, for comparison.