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VOL. 126 | NO. 187 | Monday, September 26, 2011



Blended Calif. Wine Perfect Aperitif Choice

By Fredric Koeppel

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Pine Ridge Vineyards, founded in the Napa Valley in 1978, has built a sustained and justified reputation on its stately, long-aging cabernet sauvignon wines. I bet more people, that is to say, more casual wine drinkers, know the winery for an unusual little wine concocted in the early 1990s as an experiment.

This is the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier – or as the label has it now “Chenin Blanc + Viognier” – a delightful wine that blends two grape varieties that would never share the same vineyard or region, not to mention bottle, in France. Chenin blanc is a mainstay of parts of the Loire Valley, and viognier is a rare grape that inhabits the northern Rhone, and never the twain shall meet.

Except in California.

The Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2010 is a blend of 79 percent of the former and 21 percent of the latter. The wine carries a “California” designation because the chenin blanc grapes derive from the Clarksburg appellation in the Sacramento Delta, while the viognier – “vee-OWN-yay” – hails from Lodi. No oak here; all stainless steel.

Who could resist these delicate aromas of soft ripe peaches and pears woven with jasmine and quince and just a touch of chenin blanc’s characteristic damp hay quality? How pretty! Yet in the mouth, the wine asserts a slightly more serious side – just slightly, not sacrificing its blitheness – with its fresh, pert acidity, its clean lacy edge of limestone and then, again, that softness and ripeness of stone fruit yet a finish that brings some surprising spareness, a hint of mineral austerity and grapefruit bitterness.

A terrific aperitif and delicious with sushi and moderately spicy Asian fare.

FOR YOUR VERY
OWN BOTTLE

BUSTER’S LIQUORS & WINES
191 S. Highland St., $14
great wines & spirits
6150 Poplar Ave., $14
POPLAR PIKE WINE & SPIRITS
9330 Poplar Pike, Germantown, $14

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