Vine Spot’s Viognier Blind Tasting Results

Hello Friends,

This past Saturday Virginia Vine Spot hosted a blind Viognier tasting, pitting several Virginia examples against a number of other popular regions, including the highly acclaimed Condrieu. Much like the successful Cabernet Franc tasting we hosted last year, where the lesser known and least expensive Cabernet Franc from the small Village of Chinon located in the central Loire Valley took first place, the end result of this blind tasting was quite a shocker.

Purple Pens, Tasting Sheets and a Glass - We are Ready to Roll!

The wine line-up prior to being wrapped up

Without further adieu, allow me to introduce our tasters, who, by the way, are all Virginia wine oenophiles, hence the blind tasting. Tasting at this evenings event were our friends John and Megan of Woodland Vineyards and Anything Wine web site, Pete Bazzel of American Health & Fitness, Paul and Warren of VA Wine Time, Meg Doppee of Wine Shop at Home, and blossoming Virginia wine lovers Brian and fiancé, Deon.

The fine nibbles - Yummy!

Following some friendly chatter and fine nibbles we were ready to proceed with the evening’s fun-filled events. The tasters assessed the quality of 10 wines, and also judged these wines based on how well the varietal represented the Viognier grape variety. The tasters were given the tasting list which displayed all 10 wines being tasted, as well as prices and descriptions. They had no idea, however, which wines were being poured as Dezel had all the bottles concealed! As a side bonus, after each wine tasted the tasters were asked to write down which wine they thought they were tasting, and the person with the most correct guesses at the end of the evening won a prize. It might be interesting to note the wide range in prices - the least expensive Viognier was $5.99 and the most expensive was a stingy $48.99. Let’s see what the tasters thought about these 10 Viognier examples.

Based on a 100 Point Scoring System the following wines are ranked in order 1 thru 10 with their calculated score, which includes a culmination of the taster’s notes, and the order in which that wine were tasted. The results were surprising to say the least.

Honey Moon Viognier - She's a Beauty, as well as a cheap date

1. Honey Moon Viognier 2005 (California) ** WINNER **
This is a wine I discovered at Trader Joes several weeks ago, and from the first sniff and sip I knew that this $6 wine would hold its ground among the more expensive selections. I did not think it would be the leader of the pack however. The tasters described this wine as pale to straw in color with an inviting bouquet of pear, stone fruit and tropical fruit, honeysuckle and hints of butterscotch and spice. The aromas carry over to the palate, with some richness and candied fruit in this pleasant mouth-filling and fully-flavored wine. Overall, this was a very nice wine, which all the tasters equally enjoyed.


2. Waterford Viognier 2005 (Virginia)
Waterford, now Corcoran Vineyards, finds itself in familiar territory as their delicious Cabernet Franc 2002 placed 2nd in our Cabernet Franc tasting last year. Tasters described this selection as pale to straw in color with a highly aromatic nose of floral, melon and cedar aromas, with sprinkles of apricot and peach. On the palate are citrus flavors mingling with soft peach and melon, framed in a solid burst of oak. The wine ends in a pleasant stone fruit finish and was enjoyed equally among the tasters.

SCORE: 81 PRICE: $ 18.00 ORDER TASTED: 7th

3. Oak Grove Viognier 2006 (San Martin, California)
This wine is pale in color with inviting honeysuckle, nectarine, apple and stone fruit aromas. Upfront this wine offered classic Viognier personality and characteristics. Nice and smooth, viscous on the tongue, with stone fruit and honey flavors. Several tasters tagged this wine as finishing slightly tart, but it had enough going upfront and mid-palate to safely slide into 3rd.


4. Alamos Viognier 2006 (Argentina)
This wine is pale in color with an inviting nose of honeydew and apple aromas. On the taste are ample fruit flavors of apple and pear with hints of banana and spice. The wine, although light, was lively with good racy acidity, and overall a nice well balanced, and easy drinking Viognier.


5. Horton Viognier 2006 (Virginia)
This wine is pale in color with a highly aromatic nose of apricot, nectarine and citrus aromas. On the taste this wine displays bountiful fruit intensity, with apricot and melon flavors being over-shadowed by citrus fruit. Several tasters compared the crispness and grapefruit like flavors to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. This is an easy drinking wine with a good level of racy acidity that shines through layers of citrus fruit flavors.


6. Bridgman Viognier 2005 (Yakima Valley, Washington State)
This wine is straw in color with a medium bouquet of banana, apple, butter, and oak; almost reminiscent of some Chardonnays. On the taste were ample fruit flavors of apple, banana and pear. Not a bad wine, just simple and more Chardonnay like, opposed to Viognier.

SCORE: 73 PRICE: $ 12.99 ORDER TASTED: 9th

7. Chester Gap Viognier 2005 (Virginia)
This wine is pale in color with a medium nose of citrus and stone fruit with some grassy qualities. On the taste are citrus like flavors, spice and oak with touches of pineapple and light canned peach. Overall this is a nice wine, but of a lighter shade of Viognier.


8. Veritas Viognier 2005 (Virginia)
This wine is pale in color with a soft nose of peach, honeydew and oak. On the taste oak dominates the gentle flavors of apricot, melon and citrus-like fruit. This wine finishes peppery and slightly hot and was not to the taster’s preference. Not very exciting, perhaps a better taste when served very well chilled.


9. E. Guigal Condrieu 2005 (Rhone Valley)
This wine is pale to lemon in color with soft to medium peach, mint, spice and oak aromas. On the taste the soft tree and stone fruit flavors with mineral hints were outdone by assertive oak characteristics. The tasters tagged this wine as being slightly hot mid-palate onto the finish and too overly oaked for the soft fruit, as well as their personal taste preferences.


10. Yalumba Viognier 2006 (Australia)
This wine is pale to lemon in color with very soft fruit {peach, apricot} and plastic-like chemical aromas. This carries through to the palate with slight mineral notes and crispness, but does nothing to improve the quality of the wine. Not unpleasant, but simple and completely lacking, and finishing slightly bitter.

SCORE: 59 PRICE: $10.99 ORDER TASTED: 10th


Following the tasting everyone was surprised to learn that the $6 Californian selection outshined the pricier selections. That is the beauty of a blind tasting however, ones expectations and perception of a wine based on its price, origin, producer, and other considerations are completely abandoned. The wine is assessed solely on its quality and structural elements.

Dezel pouring for the tasters - notice the bottle is bagged.

The tasters hard at work analyzing the wine

Ahhh, what pleasant aromas ...

In relation to perception, it is interesting to note that over ½ of the tasters guessed that the Condrieu was the least expensive wine on their tasting sheet. On the flip side of the coin, the wine the tasters enjoyed the most, the Honey Moon 2005, was selected as the most expensive of all the wines listed. So who guessed the most wines correctly? It was Paul! Paul correctly guessed 3 of the 10 wines, and for his efforts was awarded a bottle of Virginia Cabernet Franc. Yummy!

And the Winner is Paul !!!!

We wrapped the evening up by enjoying a bottle of Woodland Vineyards first vintage of Viognier (2006), which John and Megan were kind enough to share with the group. Everyone was enamored with the beautiful label Megan designed for the bottle, as well as the results inside. After a toast to friendship and happy-times we dove into some delectable desserts, flavored coffee, and chatted the night away.

Woodland Vineyard Viognier 2006

In closing, Dezel would like to send a ‘Big Thank You’ to Janet of Janet Java’s Coffee Shop located at 5735 Telegraph Rd., Alexandria, VA 22303. Janet was kind enough to allow me to host this event at her delightful and sunny coffee shop after business hours. She also catered the event for us, and you can ask anyone that attended, the food was plentiful and delicious. Anyone who enjoys a good cup of coffee, home-made desserts, breakfast muffins, croissants, smoothies, frappuccinos and sandwiches, etc., should definitely pay Janet a visit. She is opened daily from 6:30am – 2pm, and the warmness of the shop equals the tasty food items and java. Every Friday the coffee shop is opened late for 'Happy Hour', and there is usually live entertainment and good spirits to go around. Also, look for a Virginia wine tasting hosted by 'yours truly' in the near future at Janet’s charming neighborhood coffee shop! Stay tuned for the red and white details.

Some of the bright and sunny tasters - Thanks!

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