With the temperatures we've had lately, it's hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. During the summer, red wines take something of a back seat to white. When the temperatures climb high, crisp and refreshing is what you want. But as we transition back into autumn, tastes shift. Light reds, like the Beaujolais I wrote about two weeks ago, come into play. And when it comes to whites, you look for something with a little more complexity and character. Viognier, with its perfumed aromas and lovely stone-fruit flavors, is just the thing for the cooler weather. Here are the panel's favorites from our recent viognier tasting:
2008 K Viognier, $21.50
Light and lovely aromas with soft accents of white peach, fresh basil, nutmeg and mineral fill this wine. On the palate, the K is both elegant and refreshing, showing a nice balance between sweet stone fruit and crisp, ripe citrus. The finish lingers nicely, offering honeyed lemon with a light touch of orange zest. There's an underlying minerality to this wine, almost chablis like, but with a viognier cloak. This wine cries out to be paired with seafood.
2006 Rosenblum Viognier, Kathy's Cuvee, $17.99
Typically, viognier should be drunk within a year of its release to enjoy the charming fresh-fruit flavors, but there are exceptions. The Rosenblum is an unapologetically unctuous wine that has gained complexity with age. Heady ripe apricot aromas dominate the nose with layers of spice, blood orange, hazelnut, butterscotch and caramel. The flavors are big and bold with creamy peach and ripe apple, while the wine boasts just enough acidity to balance things out. A delight on its own, or pair it with rich cheeses.
2008 Zaca Mesa Viognier, $17.50
Stylistically, the Zaca Mesa falls somewhere between the lean and lively K and the opulent Rosenblum. Floral honeysuckle and rose petal mark the nose along with melon, peach, spice and lemon zest. This is a fruit-forward wine with sweet peach, apricot and honeyed melon flavors and a nice, creamy texture. All that richness is balanced well by seamless acidity throughout, with crisp citrus coming through especially on the finish.:
This week's panel: David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Kevin Settles, Bardenay; Scott Sprague, Idaho Wine Merchant; Leslie Young, Boise Co-op Wine Shop