2008 Honey Moon Viognier

2008 Honey Moon ViognierPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Viognier is a rare and stylish grape with golden hues and amazing floral scents. Our Honey Moon Viognier is named after the June full moon, which signifies the moment when the sweet scent of the flowers turn into young grapes, creating this lush, full bodied wine with peach, apricot and honeysuckle aromas followed by luscious honey, mango and nectar finish.

What I Think:

One of those that seems to be a Bronco Wine Co. offering but isn’t, Trader Moon is just as secretive though. They are responsible for the many other moons on the TJ’s wine shelves… Old Moon Zin, Venetian Moon Pinot Grigio, Tuscan Moon Sangiovese and Velvet Moon Cab. Regardless this Honey Moon Viognier has been one of my favorites for years and I was amazed to see that I had yet to review it. Given that I wanted to quickly rectify the situation.

This one has a great nose, like fully pollinated red/orange fruit, loaded with peaches and apricots. On the palate peach and honey are prevalent on a full bodied frame of white stony, fruits. The finish is rich and plush with ripe peaches and just a hint of sweetness. To some, this may be too much sweetness but it works well for me. Drink this one on its own or with anything, literally. This one won a bronze medal in the recent 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and is a sure thing to appear in my next Top 10 list…

Rating: Buy It

2007 Clay Station Viognier

2007 Clay Station ViognierPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Viognier (vee-oh-NYAY) is an elegant, aromatic wine that pairs well with many foods including scallops, pasta with pest and Szechwan green beans. Our Viognier displays notes of honeysuckle, jasmine and orange blossom layered with juicy guava and peach character for a refreshing finish that lingers.”

What I Think:

I got tipped off on this one by my Trader Joe’s insider Angela. I struck out the first time I tracked this down but had success in round two. Good thing as a trip to BevMo would have cost me $11 while TJ’s rings it up at $4. Per the bottle Clay Station describes themselves as “formerly a nineteenth century stage coach stop, offers wines crafted for the adventurous palate. Created from rare or more difficult to grow grape varieties, these wines deliver refreshing aromatic whites and boldly structured reds.” Per their site they make a Zinfandel, a Petite Sirah and Pinot Gris. I’ve heard via the comments Trader Joe’s has the Zinfandel, yet to see it myself though Angela gives it at least one thumb down. I’ll likely try it anyhow and dream of one day seeing the Petite Sirah…

Now onto the wine; on the first day this one was a bit over the top, or better said forward. Day three textbook Viognier. Pretty nose of honey & fresh cut flowers. On the palate you get the same floral tastes with hints of peach and lemon notes on the finish. Viscosity disappears beyond mid-palate. Nice, long tart end over a citrus backbone. All the reasons Viognier is my favorite “hearty” white wine.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Bear’s Lair Viognier

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per The Wineauxs “Tropical fruit on the nose – papaya and pineapple mostly. Feels a bit viscous in the mouth, some spicy notes, and a bit of fruit – quite dry over all actually. This is interesting as the finish is huge while the palate is somewhat muted….lots of spice and tropical fruit – papaya and maybe even some guava with lingering vanilla bean and at the very end some strong lime notes coming through. An insanely long finish for almost any wine, let alone one under five bones. This is a tough bottles to complain about…dirt cheap and surprisingly complex. I like my Viognier with more melon on the flavor profile but hey – four bucks? I’m sold.”

What I Think:

Google couldn’t help me find much here but Deb sure did. This turns out to be another offering from Bronco Wine Company which maintains no official web presence of their own. Guessing that is largely because their association with a label could often be considered detrimental… Anyhow having a little fun looking around I discovered a few interesting facts courtesy of Wikipedia. Fred Franzia is the nephew of Ernest Gallo and Bronco is the 4th largest producer of wine in the US. Massive! The Wikipedia page also has a list of their brands with Bears’ Lair accounted for.

With the weather as it has been whites have been on the menu often. Given my lack of appreciation for Chardonnay and the fact that I don’t find sweetness all that refreshing we have been drinking Sauvignon Blanc like it was going out of style. Having enjoyed some Viognier in the past I picked up this bottle, as well as the Honeymoon, as I was strolling through the Trader Joe’s Wine section. With a taco salad on the table it seemed like an opportune time to give it a try. To the eye the wine was golden, yellow and the nose showed hints of tropical fruits. Full and viscous is the best way to describe the first sip. The palate is crisp with notes of citrus before giving way to a nice creamy finish. This is a nice offering though subdued throughout. I am use to Viognier being much more expressive. At this price point guessing I shouldn’t be picky. That said I hope the Honeymoon is better. If that is true, won’t be buying this one again.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 York Mountain Paso Robles Viognier

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery (pdf) “Our Viognier is rich and complex with aromas of peaches, apricots and honeysuckle, along with a lingering spicy finish. Its bold flavors will match well with Asian, Cajun or Indian cuisine. We love it with sushi.”

What I Think:

I picked this one up the same day I grabbed the Martin & Weyrich Nebbiolo Reserve, at the time I had no idea that they were both made by the same company (Martin & Weyrich). Similar to the Nebbiolo Trader Joe’s seems to be dealing a steal on this Viognier which is going for $22 on the winery site. Would love a peek inside how the process of these finding their way into a Trader Joe’s works. My guess on these is that they are taking up space in a warehouse and need to be moved. A broker is called to liquidate stock. The broker calls Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s tastes. Trader Joe’s likes. Trader Joe’s offers $1 a bottle, broker says $20, they meet around $4 and Trader Joe’s sells for $6. I wonder how close to accurate that is.

Anyway back to the matter at hand. We had salmon on the menu and friends on the way over for dinner so I threw this in the fridge and opened the Castle Rock Mendocino Pinot so that we had a few options available. Randomly, my friend Eric brought over this same exact bottle over that night which was a curios coincidence. In a previous post I mentioned that I thought Viognier’s from the US were on the sweeter side. This one certainly helped debunk that myth. On the nose it showed some light notes of white fruit on top of a mineral, stony backdrop. On the palate white peach and pear came to the fore. The texture was full and rich before fading to a slightly crisp finale. I didn’t get any hint of the spicy finish they mentioned on the bottle. I initially thought perhaps I had overcooled the wine but upon letting it get to room temperature it was still nowhere to be found. Regardless, this is worth another thought I would pass on the Asian food pairing recommended above. Luckily I have another on standby. Look for an update here soon.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Chapelle du Bois Viognier Vin de Pays d’Oc

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Here the nose is apples and peaches. The mouth is more apricoty like you expect, but also tastes like citric acid. Lots of peaches on the short finish. A little off-dry. Not bad, especially with spicy stir-fry.”

What I Think:

This wine interested me as I have been seeking out Viognier. I’ve had some from the US and Australia and this was the first from France. It is interesting to compare and contrast the styles by area. The US variety is a sweeter bunch and to date my favorite. The Aussies make ita little straight forward. While I enjoy it in their Shiraz I wasn’t thrilled about it on its own. As for France, this effort wasn’t bad, I’m not seeking it but if 11 bottles are in the cart this could be the 12th.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Rosenblum Kathy’s Cuvee Viognier

Price: $18.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “The Viognier grape produces a wine that is both exotic and seductive. The grape originates from the tiny and very steep hillside appellation of Condrieu in the Northern Rhône Valley of France.

This Viognier possesses beautiful aromas of apricots and peaches gently touched by vanilla and cinnamon. A palate loaded with honeyed apricots, rich vanillas, subtle hints of tropical fruit and just a touch of toasted oak complete this elegant wine.

This wine is perfect as an aperitif; or will accompany grilled swordfish or frogs legs in cream sauce.”

What I Think:

Got this as part of my last wine club shipment and was looking forward to opening it up. Being recently back from Australia I was certainly impressed by what a little bit of this added to Shiraz was able to produce and this sure didn’t disappoint. The texture was thick in the mouth and it gave you the idea that it wanted to be sweet but wasn’t. An excellent wine. Seems like it is difficult to find these in a reasonable price range which makes it harder to gauge on a value basis but I sure would love to have another bottle of this one.

Rating: Wow!