Now that spring is into full swing, it’s time for the shift. Whether or not we’re conscious of it, we all make adjustments as the days grow longer and the weather warms up. For me, some of the things that occur during the shift include turning the heater off (done), dusting off and cleaning up the outdoor grill, getting the shorts and sandals ready, and making room in the fridge for more than the usual one or two bottles of vino! When entertaining during the warmer weather seasons, it’s a good idea to be stocked up on wines we like to call, “Chillables.” Here at TWH, we all have our favorite pet-wines, if you will; wines which we enjoy so much that we don’t mind re-tasting them again and again. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s comforting to have a go-to, or a wine that delivers on both price and flavor. Though in continuance with the goal of expanding horizons, I took a flyer on a new chillable earlier in the week. Maybe it’s because it’s neither Chardonnay nor Sauvignon Blanc; maybe it’s because it’s made by a rising star winemaker; or maybe it’s just because it’s pretty dang delicious, but I am a huge fan of the 2015 Domaine Pichat Côtes de Verenay Viognier!

Yes. I said Viognier. The most famous appellation for Viognier is Condrieu in the northern Rhône Valley. Condrieu is not cheap. A brief online search tells us that they start at about $40 per bottle. Stéphane Pichat bottles a Condrieu, though it’s closer to $60. Aha! But he also makes Syrah and Viognier under his Côtes de Verenay, Collines Rhodanienne label, and both are exceptional values! Pichat’s Viognier is a mere $26.99, which is, for a wine of its class, a bargain. With the full case discount, it is less than $23. If you are looking for a white wine with a touch of class and a modest price, you must try this one.

So yeah, I took a bottle of the 2015 Pichat Viognier home the other day. I heated up some dinner, poured out a glass, and sat down. I took in the aromas … lovely. Stone fruit. Apricots, peaches, and definitely a chalky, almost vitamin-like minerality on the nose. My eyebrows rose; Wow! I thought. This smells fancy. I went in for a taste … delicious. It has a fuller body with fresh acidity bound to the expansive peachy, apricot-like fruit. It’s clean, fresh, and expressive, and finishes all in harmony. I could get used to this wine, in fact, after looking at my personal invoice, it seems to have become a go-to for me.

Here at TWH, we act like a little family, so we know each others’ preferences when it comes to food and wine. When I tasted this wine, I thought of an ongoing conversation that I have with my colleague, Chris. We both agree that if we (employees) don’t plan ahead, sometimes we end up at a corner store or market spending $20 on a bottle of wine that we might not necessarily enjoy as much as we would had we grabbed something before we left work. This is considered an epic fail. I feel a pang of shame whenever this happens, yet every once in a while, it still does. So I came in the next day and stealthily brown bagged a bottle of Pichat’s 2015 Viognier and popped it into the cold box. As the day grew to a close, I poured out a couple of glasses and handed them to Chris and David. What is it? Blind tasting can be fun … and tormenting! I couldn’t hang on to my secret for too long, so I spoiled the party before they could guess by revealing the bottle. Ultimately, they were both very impressed with the wine. David’s first reaction was that, “Shucks, we didn’t buy enough.” And as much fun as it was to taste them blind on it, the main purpose of sharing this bottle was to further cement in our heads that it is indeed an epic fail to spend $20 at the market when that approximate amount could be traded in for a wine of this calibre. Something to think about the next time we have a bottle in our hands at the checkout hoping no one we know sees us. Anya wasn’t in that day, though I strongly suggested she try a bottle. She has and now she’s in the club too!

If one were to suggest to me that three weeks after returning from the annual Bordeaux trip that I would be talking about a fantastic Viognier experience, I would have had my doubts. Though now with the month of May on the horizon, it’s time for the shift. Keep the Viognier a-flowin’! – Peter Zavialoff