The best-known white grape from France's Rhone Valley is viognier, a variety that does particularly well here in Idaho. It produces a rich and floral wine with an unctuous texture that's particularly well suited for the current cool, wet weather. But there are other intriguing grape varieties from that region, and they too are finding favor in vineyards outside of France. Typically blended, they also have the stuffing to serve as cool-weather warmers. Here are the panel's favorite other Rhone whites:
2008 Line Shack Roussanne, $14.99
This is 100 percent roussanne from San Antonio--no, not Texas, but the new American Viticultural Area in California. This wine offers rich aromas of peach and dried apricot on the nose. Balance is the key in this yin and yang of wine, where ripe honeydew melon and peach flavors meld perfectly with the tart citrus and green apple. An enchanting take on the grape.
2008 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc, $11.99
This French entry offers a cornucopia of Rhone varieties including grenache blanc, bouboulene, marsanne and roussanne. The aromas are light but lively, dominated by soft citrus with accents of rhubarb, dried fruit, rose hip and clover. Elegantly structured, the palate is highlighted by soft melon with a nice hit of lemon zest on the finish. This is an exceptional value.
2008 Villa Creek White, $24
From Paso Robles, Calif., this blend of grenache blanc, roussanne and just a kiss of viognier (10 percent) has all the richness you'd expect from this warm-climate region, but with a sense of balance you might not. Enticing aromas of honeydew melon and peach play against bright citrus and orange zest. There's a nice mix of crisp pineapple and sweet mango in the mouth with a smooth and creamy finish.