Enjoyed a recent blind tasting of Viognier with the Carmel Valley Wine Club, San Diego, tasting No. 306 over 32 years. Previously done in person, now on Zoom, which has reduced the banter and camaraderie but improved tallying the scores and calculating accurate results in minutes.

When done in person, the organizer, Jerry Feitelson, would draw a grid on a flip chart, go through each wine and ask for votes on first, second or third from the assembled crowd and manually tally the results. On occasion, with new guests, we would have Chicago-style voting, with more votes than the number of people. By polling each wine on Zoom for first, second and third votes, or none, he could check the total votes versus the number of tasters for instant validation. Some votes were completed in under 15 seconds. He issues the rankings and code break when all votes are tallied.

In this most recent tasting, we had Viognier wines from $6 to $90 and from five countries: France, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Some stylish wines worth trying. My notes are below, in order of scoring, with the group ranking from 17 experienced tasters in parentheses.

Viognier Tasting

  • 2018 Site Larner Vineyard Viognier Santa Barbara, CA, $50. Sharp green gold; hint of wood; earthy, peachy, nutty, big fruit nose; low to medium acids; balanced; opens with air; long tasty slightly hot finish (14.1 alc.). 16.5-17 UC Davis scale, 91-92 other scales. (1st)
  • 2018 Eagles’ Nest Viognier Constantia, South Africa, $26. Pale straw gold; intense floral and weedy nose; candied; some slate; light to mid acids; mid body, balanced; better finish than nose. 16.5/91 (3-4)
  • 2019 Chateau de Saint Cosme Condrieu Condrieu, Rhone, France, $90. Light to mid yellow; fresh, fruity, sweet floral, wine lees, complex nose; low to mid acid; fat, potential residual sugar; deeper fruit, some wood; long, semi-oily hot finish (15.0 alc.). 16-16.5/90-91 (2)
  • 2019 Porter Creek Hayley Marie Vineyard Viognier Sonoma, CA, $48. Light straw, viscous (14.7 alc.); candied; nectarine, green fruit nose; soft acid; mid body; some intensity; long fruity finish; deeper, honeysuckle hints. 16-16.5/90-91 (6)
  • 2018 Milbrandt The Estates Viognier Columbia Valley, WA, $28. Mid gold; big fruit, floral, tangerine nose; low to mid acid; long fruity fat finish; improves with air. 16/90 (7-8)
  • 2018 Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier Barossa, Australia, $50. Pale straw, viscous; citrus, green fruit, weedy, peachy; low acid; fat; mid body; good flavors but slightly hot. 16/90 (7-8)
  • 2018 Hans Family Estate Viognier Marlborough, New Zealand, $41. Mid green gold; candied, floral, nectarine and earthy nose; soft acid; round; not deep; short finish. 15.5/89 (3-4)
  • 2020 Vignals Viognier Pays d’Oc, Carcassonne, France, $6. Pale straw; floral, candy, weedy intense nose; soft acids; fat; fruity; easy drinking; round. Slightly hot. 15-15.5/88-89 (5)