Viognier seems to be enjoying quite a rise in popularity in the U.S. In part, that may be because the grape can be grown successfully in areas and climates that are outside the well-known wine-growing regions. For instance, Viognier is widely found among vintners in Virginia. Virginia Viognier evidently first gained national notice in 1993 when a Horton Vineyards Viognier won top honors at a California wine tasting. In fact, Viognier is the state grape of Virginia, and is grown by roughly forty percent of the State’s vineyards. No surprise, I suppose, that my first Viognier was a Virginia wine. Terroir being what it is and an integral part of the wine-making process, I was keen to see what this Trader Joe’s Viognier from the greater Sacramento area might be like.
Winemaker: Trader Joe’s (ASV Wines for Trader Joe’s)
Wine: Petit Reserve Viognier
Appellation: Clarksburg, CA
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: A bright lemon yellow, this TJ offering was light-bodied with scents of honey, citrus and fig on the nose. Acidity was quite high – racey, even – and alcohol was at 13.7%. On the tongue, I found this Viognier to be largely focused on one flavor – copious bitter orange. I thought it was an interesting light white. I didn’t dislike it, but I wouldn’t serve it at a cocktail reception. I think it should be paired with something. What to pair it with, though, that’s the question. If you’ve found a successful match for this selection, please drop a note and let me know. With all that bitter orange, I wonder if something sweet and chocolaty might work?