The simplicity of this month’s white fish with pesto recipe is quite appealing, particularly when one identifies an appropriate wine which will accentuate the basic ingredients and add layers of complexity and enjoyment to the meal. The delightfully aromatic white wine known as Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAY) is just the right beverage for this task. Viognier is a relatively full-bodied white wine which will add some heft to the light fish, while its moderate acidity will contrast nicely with the richness from the parmesan cheese, cashews and olive oil. The beautiful floral notes on the nose from the Viognier meld pleasantly with the pungent aromatics from the basil just as the notes of fruit on the palate (think apricot and pear) add layers of flavor and juiciness to a fish which can sometimes come off as rather bland and dry.
Well known for centuries in the northern Rhone region of France, Viognier has also been cultivated successfully in many other moderate climates throughout the world, including other areas of Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and right here in Sonoma County. Viognier’s textural, aromatic and flavor attributes have made it a successful wine for blending with other white varietals such as Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Interestingly, Viognier is also commonly blended with certain red wines, much to the benefit of the finished product. While not widely planted locally, our homegrown versions of wines made from this intriguing grape are of the highest quality. Due to this excellence, the varietal is steadily gaining popularity among winemakers and grape growers, and I hope to see more offerings available over the next few years.
So try a bottle of local Viognier, and if you like it, talk it up and keep buying it! Your good taste could help support the advancement and growth of another world-class and delicious local wine. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com