If you're boning up on your ABCs--Anything But Chardonnay--you might want to add the letter "V" to your lesson plan. That would be "V" for "Viognier."
It's a grape that offers a lot of what Chardonnay lovers love: ripe tropical and stone fruit, big and bold flavors, rich and creamy mouthfeel. But it's also got something more: seductive aromas and flavors that suggest honeysuckle, orange blossom and fresh-cut flowers. Of course, those alone could be interesting for a few sips until they grew cloying, but the best Viogniers support all that richness with a backbone of citrus acidity that keeps you filling up your glass.
Unfortunately, many of those Viogniers that definitely do not suck are just as definitely not cheap. Like Pinot Noir, Viognier is a finicky grape, relatively low-yielding and susceptible to diseases. While is why $7.99 for the very well-made and quite delightful Oak Grove 2009 Reserve Viognier is a deal good enough to make you put down that Bud and run out to your local wine shop PDQ to take advantage of.
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It delivers all of that rich, ripe floral-tropical-honey-apricot flavor of its more expensive cousins, while keeping it honest with lemon-orange acidity and the slight tang of oak. It's a particularly good match with spicy or garlicky dishes, as well as lighter meats like chicken and pork off the grill. And eight bucks! That's A-OK.