There may not be a better widely available American white wine for versatile everyday drinking than Pine Ridge’s Chenin Blanc + Viognier blend. I’ve been sampling this wine for years, and the 2015 is as good as it’s ever been.
Pine Ridge is a Napa Valley mainstay, best known for its reds, especially its Cabernet Sauvignons, which start at about $65 and go up to $250 (oxygen, please!). There are a couple of Chardonnays that aren’t exactly cheap, either. And then, almost as a gift from the god of wine affordability, there is the Chenin Blanc + Viognier.
It’s priced on Pine Ridge’s website at $15, but dozens of wine stores around the country sell it for $10 or $12. Why is this particular Pine Ridge wine so affordable? For one thing, the grapes are not from Napa, with its sky-high wine real estate. Instead, the appellation is “California.” Pine Ridge sources the grapes from vineyards in two less-heralded northern California regions: Clarksburg for the Chenin Blanc, and Lodi, just down the road, for the Viognier. It combines them into a top California wine value.
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The blend is 83 percent Chenin Blanc and 17 percent Viognier, and the wine presents a range of aromas and tastes, including apple and peach, citrus (orange and grapefruit), and light floral notes.
It’s made without oak, which keeps the impression light and fresh, as does a nice acidic edge. But there is surprising depth here, especially for a wine with just 12.5 percent alcohol. As with many whites, the complexity emerges as it warms up a bit.
This is a refreshing aperitif wine, which seems made for late-spring and summer drinking, and will pair with all kinds of foods, from fish and sushi to salads and vegetable dishes. It’s a must-have for the warmer months.