Viognier, with its floral aromas and ripe fruit flavors, is a perfect match for spring. While it's great on its own, I prefer the balance you get when it's blended with other grapes. Viognier is often found in the white wines of France's Rhone Valley, and that practice has spread to other wine regions. Here are the panel's top picks in viognier-influenced white blends:
2009 Airfield Estates Flygirl White, $12.99
This Washington blend is big on viognier (60 percent) and includes the traditional Rhone grape roussanne, as well as the not-so-traditional gewurztraminer and chardonnay. Sweet apricot dominates the aromas, while in the mouth, it's a well balanced wine with spicy stone fruit flavors backed by soft citrus.
2010 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, $10.99
Grenache blanc, viognier, marsanne and roussanne come together in this blend, highlighted by soft citrus, gooseberry and melon aromas. It's bright and lively on the palate and filled with ripe peach fruit flavors that play against bold and bright lemon and lime. The finish is crisp and refreshing.
2010 Sunflower Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $23
This blend of viognier, marsanne, roussanne and picpoul is produced by Berkeley-based importer Kermit Lynch in collaboration with Louis Barruol of St. Cosme. There's a hint of clover coloring the light tropical notes of papaya and mango on the nose. Round and supple on the palate, this wine is marked by creamy melon and apple fruit flavors. A touch of black walnut and soft acidity come through on the finish.
2009 Treana White, $18.99
A 50/50 blend of viognier and marsanne, this California entry is the most overtly rich of this quartet. Heady honeysuckle and spicy peach aromas lead off, while sweet, ripe stone fruit flavors dominate the palate. An intriguing bit of lemon custard comes through on the finish and lingers.