Must-Try Wine of the Week: 2012 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier California White Wine

Pine Ridge Vineyards is a Napa Valley winery on the Silverado Trail celebrating 35 years. Established in 1978 by iconic winemaker Gary Andrus, the estate’s 200 acres now span five renowned Napa Valley appellations. Pine Ridge is most known for is superlative cabernet sauvignon, Bordeaux-style blends, merlot and chardonnay, but the wine that I have enjoyed repeatedly since its introduction in the early 1990s is the unconventional blend of chenin blanc and viognier.

Chenin blanc and viognier would never share the same bottle in their native France since chenin blanc is grown in the Loire region and viognier in the Rhone region. But in California we can celebrate this easy-to-enjoy wine that offers a beloved marriage of the typical honey aroma and crisp green apple flavor of chenin blanc with the floral aromas and more full-bodied stone fruit flavors of viognier.

The wine is composed of 80 percent chenin blanc sourced from the Clarksburg appellation in the Sacramento River Delta. The grapes are picked at low sugar levels to preserve a bright fruit character and insure a low alcohol in the finished wine (12.0 percent). This is blended with 20 percent of viognier from Lodi, picked at a higher level of Brix to capture the floral qualities and the viscosity of this grape. The wine is vinified without oak influence to preserve its pristine character.

Its aromas are complex and include appealing tropical fruits, nectarine, citrus, and floral notes. The aromas are replicated on the palate which is crisp and lightly viscous, finishing with an uplifting riff of refreshing acidity. A subtle impression of sweetness in the wine makes it a perfect foil for spicier food. I could easily imagine myself sitting on the cliffs above the beach in Corona Del Mar at sunset, sipping a chilled glass of this wine with spicy tuna roll, a Thai curry salad, or even some popcorn sprinkled with Cajun spice.

The wine is bottled under screw cap and priced at $11 in Orange County at wineex.com, hitime.net, and totalwine.com. The 2013 vintage will be released this month.