What: Airfield Estates Viognier Yakima Valley 2014 $15
Why: Viognier—pronounced ‘vee-ohn-YAY’—is Washington’s fifth most-planted white wine grape variety, sitting behind chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, and gewürztraminer.
In Washington and elsewhere, syrah is often co-fermented with a small amount of viognier to add some aromatic lift. As a varietal wine, viognier can be a challenge to get right. It typically doesn’t ripen until sugar levels are higher, which can result in more alcohol. Pick it too early and it can be bitter. Pick it too late and it can smell like a bag of boozy Jolly Ranchers. Viognier is also sensitive to oak usage, with too much new wood quickly overrunning the variety. Get it right though and it can be divine.
One example that hits the mark is the Airfield Estates Viognier Yakima Valley 2014 ($15). Viognier’s bright, overtly floral aromas are on full display here along with full-bodied flavors of pear and ripe peach. High quality examples of viognier from the state often cost $20 or more, making this one a steal. Drink up!