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Viognier grapes are bursting with notes of fruits like peach, pear and mango, and it does well in Temecula Wine Country. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Cool down with Viognier and other white wines

The first time I put my lips to a Viognier wine it was love at first taste.

This white wine, so thirst quenching and delicious, deserves better.

Its roots are deeply laid in the northern Rhone Valley of France and are the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhone.

Viognier is hard to pronounce and is lagging way behind the leader of the white wine mainstay, Chardonnay.

First let’s get the pronunciation right.

It’s (Vee-on-Yay) and like Chardonnay, Viognier has the potential to produce full-bodied complex white wine, with a pretty, golden hue to it to tempt the palate.

Unlike simpler whites, both Chardonnay and Viognier age well, so it’s not unusual to see a year or two of vintage on the label.  Another interesting thing about this wine is that it blends well with other whites.

Our friends at Robert Renzoni in Temecula Valley make a Cantata blend with 60 percent Pinot Grigio and 40 percent Viognier —lots of apple and pear on the nose, with a hint of pineapple on the finish.

Viognier seems to have found a home in Southern California.  A number of wineries in Temecula have embraced its heat-loving properties and distinguished palatable accents.

Besides Robert Renzoni, several other wineries feature Viognier in their white wine lineup.

Falkner Winery has always done well and Ray Falkner was an early believer in the varietal.  His new release Viognier is a gold medal winner, grown on the estate.

White peach, pineapple, key lime and honeysuckle are clear plate-pleasing fruits, evident in Falkner Viognier.

South Coast does well with their entry.  Aromas of peach and nectarine dominate, along with a velvety finish, evident in all Viogniers.

Maurice Car’rie Winery is an all-white varietal winery and its Viognier is accented with apricot, Asian pear notes and citrus blossom.

Most Viogniers will be in the $20 price point.

Previously, Viognier had been out of favor, and in the ‘60s, just a few acres in the northern Rhone Valley of France were set aside for the grapes.

But the popularity and price of the grape has risen since then.  It’s a difficult grape to grow and prone to mildew and up and down yields.


Pinnacle at the Top for Lunch in Temecula Wine Country

The extensive lunch menu at Pinnacle Restaurant Temecula features the herb encrusted Steelhead Salmon served with Falkner Amante 2012 Super Tuscan. Photo by Frank Mangio
The extensive lunch menu at Pinnacle Restaurant Temecula features the herb encrusted Steelhead Salmon served with Falkner Amante 2012 Super Tuscan. Photo by Frank Mangio

Pinnacle Restaurant, high atop a lookout with a sweeping view of Temecula Wine Country is Falkner Winery’s premium lunch restaurant.

Executive Chef Gianni Ciciliot has fashioned a food lover’s menu that pairs well with the many marquee varietals, headlined by the Falkner 2012 Amante Super Tuscan red blend, my wine of the month for August.

August is Lobster Fest month at Pinnacle.  Each week Ciciliot presents this elite seafood in a unique way.  This weekend dine on Maine lobster charbroiled with garlic butter, whipped Boursin cheese mashed potatoes, asparagus and a triple onion cream sauce.

Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  RSVP by calling (951) 676-8231 ext. 4.


Wine Bytes

Gianni Buonomo Vintners, San Diego’s first beach winery in Ocean Beach has a new wine release gala, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m., paired with several favorite restaurants. The 2013’s include Rhone style blends, Bordeaux inspired blends and a Super Tuscan style Sangiovese.  The winery will introduce their new label, Gianni California.  Ticket info at

It’s “Summer in Pink” at Cucina Enoteca Del Mar, Aug. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.  Five Rosé samples will be offered along with an impressive anti pasti spread by Chef Joe Mangnanelli.  Cost is $40.  Call (858) 704-4500 for an RSVP.

Il Fornaio with locations in Coronado and Del Mar presents its Sicilia Fest Regionale dishes, now through Aug. 21.  Specially crafted menu delights from the island of Sicily.

La Costa Wine on El Camino Real in Carlsbad has a beer and cheese tasting with the “Booze Bothers,” Aug. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.  It’s an all craft beer offering for $25.  RSVP at (760) 431-8455.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at and reach him at [email protected]  Follow him on Facebook.