E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2009
Available at: Suburban Wines and Spirits
Retail price: around $14
L’Exotique in the Heart of the Rhône
There is something exotic about viognier. Perhaps that’s because it is uncommon (endangered to near extinction in the 1960s) and its origins are mysterious, no one knowing exactly when or how it arrived in France. Whether it arrived via le mistral or the Roman legions, the variety has an intrigue that goes beyond its apparent lack of pedigree, to the character of the grape itself. When done well, viognier has an unrestrained and flamboyant star quality. We all have friends like this: their dress is often garish, their laugh a touch too loud and their self-image that of a newly discovered celebrity. Voilà viognier!
E. Guigal, one of the Rhône’s most reliable producers, offers a 2009 Côtes du Rhône (CDR) blanc that blends 60 percent viognier with a host of lesser-known regional varieties. Its color is deeper than most whites; it is a true gold and fetching in its own way. The nose is a forceful expression of white flowers, freesia in particular, supported with fresh peaches and apricots. The rich and unctuous palate coupled with 13.5 percent alcohol gives the wine fortitude.
While the combination of flamboyance and fortitude may not be everyone’s style, it certainly has its advantages in terms of food pairings. The Guigal CDR blanc stands up to heavily spiced exotic cuisines such as Thai and Indian. Pitting any wine against the raw heat of spicy food will undermine both the food and the wine, but the substantial amount of viognier in the blend allows the wine to hold its own in a variety of challenging food pairings. You may well appreciate the unexpected matches possible with this wine!
Try it with Asian foods, fish and chicken, and enjoy within the first three years.