Let’s not forget that there is excellent white wine from the Rhone region, so this 2007 Adelaida Viognier from Paso Robles, California, qualifies for this month’s focus. The egomaniacal monkeyface label is off-putting, but once past that, pulling the cork yields a strong whiff of newly mown grass. A closer sniff contains hints of clove. On the palate are green bell peppers and smoke. Yes, oak and alcohol (14.7) are present but are part of the whole and not distractions. This was superb as an aperitif and then with quiche and Swiss chard. I don’t have a bottle of Condrieu for contrast tasting, but this is the finest New World Viognier I have tasted to date.
I first tasted this wine in a geology class after ingesting a few scrapings from a sample of the calcareous limestone soil the vines grow in. “Minerality” is an oft-misused term in WTNs, but in this case I could taste the connection. The Adelaida tasting bar host was convinced that it was the calcareous soil that made the wine so great, but there are similar soils on the other side of US Highway 101. However, Glenrose and other westside Paso Robles vineyards are measurably cooler than the east side of the district, and that, I think, makes the difference. And then there is the TLC of Terry Culton, winemaker. $25 and worth every penny.