Wine Blogging Wednesday #46: Rhone Whites

By Kori ~ June 11th, 2008.

Our host for the June edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20. She has selected Rhone Whites as our theme. With the warm summer weather coming soon (hopefully), many of us will be looking to enjoy some nice white wines. Excellent options are wines made from one or more of the classic white grape varieties of the Rhone Valley in France, including Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, Picardin, Picpoul/Piquepoul Blanc, Roussanne, Ugni Blanc, and Viognier. Even though these varieties are native to the Rhone Valley, these grapes are now grown in many parts of the world. Therefore, a wine does not actually have to be produced in the Rhone Valley in France to be considered a “Rhone White.”

In fact, Dr. Debs promised top billing in the roundup if we tasted wines from more than one region. So the Wine Peeps decided to blind taste one from Cotes du Rhone in France and one from the Walla Walla Valley in our home state of Washington. We selected the 2005 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc and pitted it against the 2005 Cougar Crest Viognier. We were pleasantly surprised to find that all four of us preferred the Cougar Crest Viognier from Washington. We found it to be very fresh, crisp, and smooth which is exactly what we are looking for in a summer white. In addition, it was a perfect complement to our dinner of chicken kabobs with squash, green peppers, and zucchini served with rice.

2005 Cougar Crest Viognier (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Faint yellow color and very clear. Sweet aromas of tree fruits, especially pear. Pear, honeysuckle, and floral flavors come through on the palate. Very fresh, crisp acidity, and a nice smooth finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Davidsons Liquors (Colorado), $17.99, Available elsewhere, $20 to $21

2005 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc (Rhone Valley, France): 55% Viognier, 20% Roussanne, 10% Clairette, 5% Marsanne, 5% Bourboulenc, and 5% Grenache Blanc. Light straw and hay hues. Very tight nose with faint floral and pear aromas. Minerally and chalky flavors. Very plain; nothing stands out.
Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to Buy: Davidsons Liquors (Colorado), $14.99, Available elsewhere, $11 to $15

Filed under: American Wine, French Wine, Lesser Known Varietals, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Dr. Debs | June 11th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Thanks, Peeps, for tasting from two regions and for finding a Rhone white from Washington state. I think you’ve hit on a common finding: the French versions can have more mineral, chalky notes and the US versions are more fruit forward. We’ll see how this shakes down in the final roundup.

  2. Dale Cruse | June 11th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I liked the Guigal white CdR a bit more than you did.

  3. David McDuff | June 15th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Minerally, yes, but chalky is hardly a typical flavor profile for Rhône whites, especially those dominated by Viognier. Sounds like a classic case of over-cropping yielding an under-ripe/under-flavored wine.