Editor’s Note: This Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier Review is part of our value wine series. Follow along to discover great tasting wines that are easy to find, like the Pine Ridge, that also won’t break the bank.
Vintage: 2014 (although most of what we describe below applies to any vintage, which are incredibly consistent year after year)
From: Clarksburg, Sacramento River Delta and Lodi, California
If you’re looking for a delicious, aromatic, un-oaked, medium-bodied white wine that doesn’t cost much, you’ll hit a home run with the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier blend. This little slice of New World perfection comes to us from the noteworthy wine making regions of Clarksburg and Lodi California.
Clarksburg is located almost immediately South of the city of Sacramento. Wines produced here come from vines situated in very close proximity to the Sacramento River, which in terms of Terroir, helps to contribute to many of the flavor and aroma characteristics present in the Chenin Blanc portion of the blend, which is the dominant variety at 80%.
Viognier grapes, which account for 20% of the blend, are sourced from Pine Ridges’ Lodi vineyard, located a little further to the Southeast from Clarksburg. Lodi, for those of you who may be interested, was recently rated as the #1 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Related: The Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier 2014 Blend is currently available online for delivery to your door at Wine.com for as little as $ 12.99 per bottle. Use code WLSAVE10 on orders of $150 or more for 10% off. Other major retailers, such as Total Wine and Trader Joe’s do also carry it, though typically we’ve seen it priced closer to $14.99.
Drinking and Serving the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier Blend
This particular vintage should be chilled to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit prior to opening. About 35 minutes in the fridge. To preserve flavor, it can and should be consumed throughout 2016, although optimal storing conditions may extend the life of the wine through 2017.
Pine Ridge Employs Meticulous Wine Making Practices
Fun Fact: Wines produced by Pine Ridge are also sustainably produced.
In crafting this blend, every facet of the process is orchestrated with conviction. From leveraging trellised vines to expose each individual plant to optimal sunlight and ventilation, to pruning the vines for more flavorful and concentrated grapes, Vineyard Manager Gustavo Avina ensures that each bottle, regardless of vintage is up to the best possible quality standards. But the fine-tuning doesn’t stop on the vineyard, careful vinification practices are also employed from harvest to maceration.
Both Chenin Blanc and Viognier grapes are hand harvested during the night time hours once they’ve become optimally ripe. This helps to ensure quality and freshness, as intense sun exposure and heat can potentially damage the grapes during the day time hours. Grapes are then sorted and de-stemmed by hand in an effort to select only the finest grapes and avoid any potential damage.
Adding to and enhancing the flavor concentration of the Chenin Blanc in this blend, the grapes are harvested when their sugar levels are somewhat low. Ultimately, this aids in preserving more of the fruit flavors by diminishing the level of alcohol in the final wine product. At the same time, the Viognier portion of the wine comes from grapes that were harvested while their sugar content was almost as high as it could go, thus lending more floral aromatics, intensity, body and spice to the blend.
Lastly, Pine Ridge employs high-heat, extended maceration techniques and the wine is aged in 100% stainless-steel tanks. This not only allows for maximum flavor and tannin extraction, but lets the fruit reveal its true self on the palate with no intrusion of oak. The final product has an alcohol content of 12.5% ABV.
According to the Pine Ridge Vintner:
Chenin Blanc has long been the core of this blend and is sourced from the Clarksburg appellation nestled in the Sacramento River Delta. The grapes were harvested at low sugar levels to ensure a bright fruit character and low alcohol in the finished wine. In contrast, the Viognier from Lodi was picked at 24 degrees Brix to capture the floral and spicy nature as well as the viscosity of this grape. After crushing and blending the press wine with free run juice to increase palate weight, the juice was inoculated with two special yeast strains selected to maintain the fruity characters and then fermented cold. The wine was bottled without any oak influence to retain the vibrant and refreshing profile.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier Tasting Notes
In the glass, this wine emits a beautiful clear, borderline pale-medium, lemon-straw colored hue with some hints of green, indicating youth around the rim. The nose is quite aromatic, with aromas indicative of the Viognier’s perfume. Lush floral notes, apple blossom, crushed pear, lemon peel and geraniums permeate the senses.
On the opening palate, the wine is incredibly inviting, dry and light-medium bodied. Fresh and light stone fruit notes along the lines of white peach are backed by refreshing, medium acidity and cool minerality. The mid-palate brings to light more citrus and green fruit touches, including soft tones of lime, grapefruit, ripe apple and fresh pear. Approaching the close, the wine remains balanced, elegant and complex, with some hints of white flowers, white spices, apricot and grapefruit lingering in the back of the throat and on the tongue over a refreshing medium-long finish.
Hint of sweetness? One minor note — don’t be fooled by the abundance of floral and fruit notes throughout the palate. This wine is actually dry, though it could very easily be mistaken as off-dry.
Food Pairings continue below…
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier Food Pairings
This is a great wine to pair with softer foods, such as salad, fish, shellfish or chicken while utilizing subtle sweetness and or spice. The acid in this blend is well balanced, so it’s acceptable to utilize some level of citrus, just don’t go too crazy with acidic foods as it could make the wine appear bland. At the same time, don’t go with heavy meats, cheeses or salts which will have similar effect.
The best possible food pairing option for this blend, in my mind, is sushi. Hands down. Fish or shellfish based sushi rolls (tuna, salmon, tempura shrimp) or hand-rolls allow the delicate flavors of the fish to shine through the refreshing citrus, stone fruit and spice present in the Chenin Blanc Viognier blend. I’m a sushi fanatic though, so I may be a bit bias. But don’t worry, we have several other fantastic food pairing options to go along with this wine.
Outside of sushi, try salads with chicken, avocado and thousand island or ceasar dressing. This wine is also a great candidate to pair alongside Chicken or Shrimp Pad Thai dishes. Indian or Thai foods with a curry base also make for fantastic pairings. Lastly, fried oyster or clam with mango-poblano-avocado salsa is a tried and tested dish that you can’t go wrong with. Try out any of these food pairings and more — we’ve listed several of our favorite recipes to go along with the Pine Ridge White Blend below: