Viognier: Articles on the Viognier White Wine Grape Varietal

America's Best Rhone Style White Wines: 11th Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting Reviewed

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

Like many lovers of Rhone style wines from America, we have just returned from the 2008 edition of the annual Rhone Rangers tasting event at Fort Mason in San Francisco (March 18). This was the 11th year that the Rhone Rangers, a group of about 200 American producers of wines using 22 varietals traditional to France’s Rhone Valley, have shown off their wines at this public tasting event. This year, about 138 wineries presented approximately 520 wines.

During the tasting, we enthusiastically tasted as many wines as we could within the 5 hours (3 public and 2 trade/media) the event was open. We tasted 30 white wines first, and then we tasted 50 reds. We skipped the rosés, not because we don’t love them, but because we didn’t have time. Kudos to Rhone Rangers for providing eco-friendly paper spit cups instead of the plastic cups so common at other tastings. We divided our attention between wines and producers we have known previously, producers new to us, and specific bottlings we didn’t already know. While we found many wines to admire, we are sure we missed other gems.

Viognier for Spring

I realized that I was in a red wine rut a few years ago and made a practice to try unfamiliar white wines at tastings. I quickly discovered Viognier, a medium bodied white wine, perfumed with apricots, peaches and white flowers. This stuff is amazing - delicate, yet heady; I can sit for hours just enjoying the aroma. The taste is a revelation – the silky smooth texture hits first, then the fruit and flowers explode. It’s quite wonderful.

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