Pair with Food: The Most Aggressive (good) Viognier I’ve Ever Tasted

The Back Story:

I was fairly bummed about missing the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla this year. I decided to pass the time in the days leading up to the event by directing hundreds of guilt-tripping tweets towards the bloggers who I knew were going.

Actually, I’m not quite that mean-spirited.

I did tweet a couple times to wish some of my blogger friends the best of times at the conference, in my own snarky way of course. One of the Washington State wineries, Desert Wind, noticed one of my tweets and offered to send me a sample of the wines they would be tasting at the event.

Who am I to turn down free wine?

The bottles arrived less than a week after I tweeted. I’ll definitely give Desert Wind props for that… I got 2 bottles from Desert Wind Winery and 2 bottles from Duck Pond Cellars, another Fries family project with vineyards in both Oregon and Washington. I was in a white wine mood (hey, big surprise there), so I decided to pop open a standard favorite of mine, the Viognier. The first experience was… unrewarding, I would say, but it clued us in to a food pairing that I decided to try the next night. Once that came around…? Oh man, was it good.

The Results:

The appearance of the wine is a very pale straw color with the slightest green tinge and a very clear luminosity. It appears to have a fairly full body.

The nose of the wine is very fruity with primarily tropical and citrus scents. Notes of pineapple, mango, and tangerine round out a slightly unusual Viognier nose. The alcohol doesn’t hardly come through at all.

The mouth feel of the wine is extraordinarily crisp and active, with a palpable acidity that registers in your mouth and throat immediately.

The flavor of the wine is, admittedly, nothing special on its own. It’s primarily fruit-forward, though the flavors themselves are fairly meek. Tropical and citrus round out the palate, though it’s hard to taste through the potent structure (alcohol at 14.5%). Even though the perceived acidity is high, it’s not imbalanced at all, as the pH is 3.45. It’s not bitter or unpleasant, just overwhelming where the flavor is concerned. The wine truly shined, however, when paired with Chicken Tikka Masala, a traditional Indian dish consisting of chicken tikka (chunks) cooked in masala, a tomato-based orange sauce seasoned with turmeric and curry.

As you can guess, the chicken is spicy, which is just what the wine needed. The spice softens the flavor, evoking a beautiful peach and mango flavor with a clean, moderately long finish. The wine also wasn’t half bad with buttered naan, garlic goat cheese, and juniper-berry-cured prosciutto either.

For the Casual Drinker:

You don’t want to attempt this wine without a spicy, rich food to counter it. It’s unforgiving on its own, and unless you absolutely crave the taste of acid and alcohol, you won’t get much of an experience from it. Break it out for your exotic white-meat or veggie fare, your spicy Asian dishes, maybe even Mexican if the chiles are kicking. Definitely don’t expect it to deliver nuance to a tame meal… it’ll simply overwhelm it.

The Conclusion:

Not an everyday drinker, but that’s not a problem. As long as the food pairing is right, this will be a rich, rewarding experience, especially at a bargain price of $15.00. 6/10.

In Case You Missed It:

Wine: Desert Wind Viognier

Producer: Desert Wind Winery

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State, United States

Varietal(s): 100% Viognier

Vintage: 2009

Residual Sugar: 1 g/L

Alcohol: 14.5 %

pH: 3.45

Price: $15.00

Purchased at: received as a gift, but available for purchase from the winery here

note: this wine was received as a gift from the winery as an industry sample.

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8 Responses to “Pair with Food: The Most Aggressive (good) Viognier I’ve Ever Tasted”

  1. Brian Says:

    I’ve had mixed results with Viognier. I didn’t particularly care for the Michel-Schlumberger, it was insanely dry and didn’t have enough fruit character (for my palate), but I just tried one this week from Pride Mountain Vineyards, and although it was extremely similar to the Michel-Schlumberger, it had just enough fruit umph to put it into the very yummy category. Although it retails for $42, which is, IMHO, way too much. But it is what it is.

    Sounds like a tasty pairing, I do love me some good Indian food!


    • wineaccguy Says:

      That does seem to be a risk with Viognier… there’s such a wide variety of styles even from the same region that it’s hard to correctly choose a new one that’ll suit your palate. Luckily, I like pretty much any style from that varietal, so I’m usually not disappointed.

      And yes… it better be a damn good Viognier to cost $40. My Pinot Noir for last night’s Twitter tasting was $42, and those grapes are not on the same level.

  2. Kristi Davis Says:

    Since I stay far far away from spicy foods, I’m going to have to take your word for it! I like the glass it’s in though. What logo is that?

    • wineaccguy Says:

      That glass is from Childress Winery in Lexington, North Carolina. It’s become my go-to tasting glass as it’s Stolzle-Oberglas, and it lets me save my complete Stolzle Bordeaux glass set for a special occasion. They really pull out all the stops at that winery.

      • Kristi Davis Says:

        Well, I like it :) I just had to look up Stolzle-Oberglas, pretty amazing. That’s always nice when companies pay attention to those little details.

  3. Ben Simons Says:

    Viognier does seem to be a mixed bag variety. I love the aromatics on a nice Viognier, and when it’s done well it is one of my favorite whites, but some of the ones that I’ve had recently just haven’t cut the mustard. Sounds like a great job pairing with the spicy food on this one.

    • wineaccguy Says:

      I can’t take the credit for that one, really. It was a suggestion by @suzielin, and the food was already made for me to sniff and make a snap decision.

  4. Feeling Culinary: What to Pair with Duck Pond’s Pinot Gris? « wine(explored) by wine(accessorized) Says:

    [...] for this particular day was to create a dish that would adequately pair with a gift wine. Like the Desert Wind Viognier I reviewed a couple months ago, I received the 2008 Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Gris as a gift from the Fries family as a way for me [...]

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