Yes, I paired white wine and dark chocolate. Unconventional maybe, but after a stressful week it was really nice to bake up a batch of delicious cookies (recipe) and share a glass of vin with my roommate. We went old-school last night and hit the local mall on a Saturday night…then soon vacated the premises because, frankly, that was way more fun back in high school. But we followed it up with a trip to CostPlus World Market to scavenge for all those fun candies and specialty foods from other countries, and browse the wine section, something completely non-teenagery. My roomie settled for feta-stuffed olives, Nutella, and spices, and I picked up a white wine from Australia and a bottle of curry powder. Things you would probably never buy in one store somehow seem okay when you’re shopping at the “World Market.”
The 2008 Yalumba Viognier possesses that wonderful, diluted, lemon-yellow color, smells like lemons without going overboard on the citrus, and tastes like a burst of lemon drops. It is very acidic, perhaps a little too much for my taste, but it was also refreshing, light, the perfect wine for a summer picnic not munching on chocolate chip cookies in the middle of February. I think the butter in the cookies actually helped to cut down the acid slightly. Being cooped up in my warm cozy home last night had its perks though. I got to read a little about Yalumba, which boasts it is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery. According to the winery’s website, the viognier varietal was once grown extensively south of Lyon in France, but is now found in the smaller regions of Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, with the best wines form Château-Grillet, a tiny appellation of Condrieu. It was a visit to France that inspired Yalumba’s people to plant viognier and the rest is history.
What is viognier? According to Vino Diversity, the flavor of varietal white wines made from viognier are often described using comparisons with the aromas of flowers, peaches, stone fruits, and spices. In Australia, the Barossa Valley is a hub of wine making activity–think Australia’a Napa Valley!–and this is where Yalumba is situated. While reisling is by far one of the favored white wines produced in Australia (chardonnay reigns supreme as number one), the Rhone varietals like viognier and rousanne do fairly well. Wine expert extraordinaire Kevin Zraly writes in his wine school book that viognier grows best in warmer climates like California and the Rhone Valley, but it is nice to see that other countries are experimenting with this varietal, which happens to be one of my favorites. (A bit off topic, but Chile makes some great viognier!).
I recommend picking up a bottle of Yalumba for $9 at Cost Plus and pairing it with something buttery and delicious, slices of cheese perhaps and homey crusty bread.