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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2007 Cass Vineyards Viognier**
label_06Viognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 4/22/08
A pale, lemon-colored wine with aromas of blossom, stone fruit, pear and vanilla. Unlike the 2006, this wine was barrel-fermented which has added a nice viscousity to the palate along with the peach, pear and tropical fruit flavors. The finish is filled with vanilla creme and a bit too much alcohol, which comes in at a whopping 15.5%. The touch of Roussanne gives it good acidity, but not enough to counter the oak influence. This wine was just released so I'm hoping a little time in the bottle will help it integrate more.

2007 Cline Cellars Viognier*
clineviognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $9 Cost Plus Imports 1/10/10
A medium-lemon-colored wine with moderate aromas of citrus and stone fruit with hints of flowers, honey and sweet spice. The palate was medium-full-bodied and lush with ripe fruit flavors of apricots, lemon creme and melon with notes of pear and sweet spice on the finish. Pretty well-balanced for the price. Though it tasted like viognier should, there was nothing about the wine that made it memorable. A solid, everyday effort and a great starter wine for those interested in trying this varietal, since most versions are $20+. Popped and poured, it still has enough acidity to last another year or so.

2007 Edward Sellers Vineyards Viognier**
EdwardViognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 4/28/09
A pale, lemon-colored wine with aromas of tropical and stone fruit, blossom and honey. The palate is light-bodied, yet creamy (due to barrel fermentation) with just the right touch of acidity to keep it refreshing. The flavors echo the nose with notes of ripe citrus, apricot and mango with stong hints of lemon and vanilla on the lingering finish. A classy, elegant wine made in a subtler style than many coming out of the Central Coast right now. Needs a bit more depth of flavor to be a 3-star wine (or worth the price tag), but still a lovely, well-balanced expression of the varietal.

2007 Shannon Ridge Vineyards Viognier**
07shannonridgeviognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Lake County, CA $14 Bin Ends Wine 7/9/09
A bright, pale lemon-colored wine with aromatics of stone and tropical fruits with a hint of flowers. The palate is light to medium bodied with crisp acidity and a round, creamy finish. The flavors are subtle for a CA viognier with peach, melon, pear and apple dominating. At 13.9% the alcohol was well-integrated, which allowed the fruit flavors and crispness to shine through. Barrel fermented with a stitch (5.3%) of Gewurztraminer for pop. A nice wine for the price, but nothing memorable. Ready to drink.

2007 Tres Hermanas Vineyard Viognier**
Tresviognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 2/12/09
A pale lemon-colored wine with bright aromatics of tropical and stone fruits with hints of lemon and blossom. The palate is medium-bodied and round with flavors of peach, lemon and sweet spice dominating with barely there acidity and a pleasant finish. At 14.4% the alcohol was a bit too noticeable which is why I couldn't rate it higher. A touch more acidity would have helped bring the wine into better balance. Overall, a wine that shows what Viognier is all about. It also paired well with our Thai Red Curry Shrimp.

2006 Alban Vineyards Central Coast Viognier***
2006alban.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Central Coast, CA $25 K&L Wines 12/27/07
The nose reveals slightly sweet scents of honey, white peach, and clover. But on the palate, the wine is blissfully dry, yet full-bodied. Excellent balance, lightly crisp throughout, and a very long finish. Alban is why I love this varietal. I haven't been disappointed yet.

2006 Arroyo Robles Viognier, Mill Road Vineyard**
viognier.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Paso Robles, CA $25 @ the Winery 12/28/07
Medium-bodied with with classic floral and stone fruits aromas that follow through with big ripe flavors and a touch of vanilla and minerals on the palate. More acidity and elegance would have earned this three stars. Good, but at this stage, a bit pricey for the quality.

2006 Cass Vineyards Viognier***
label_06Viognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 10/13/07
Despite its' pale gold appearance this wine is packed with flavor. It has all the classic floral and stone fruit aromas and flavors, but serves them up with a crisp acidity that hits the perfect mixture of ripeness and elegance. It has a lovely finish of tropical fruit flavors that make you want to dive right back into the glass. They must be doing something right because this wine is already sold out.

2006 Cold Heaven Cellars Viognier, Vogelzang Vineyard**
coldheaven.jpg Region Price Tasted Date
Santa Barbara, CA $20 @ the Wine House 2/26/08
A pale, clear lemon, this medium-bodied wine has moderate aromas of ripe pear and stone fruits with a hints of spice, which follow through on the palate with a fruity and full mouthfeel and a hint of vanilla on the finish. The lack of acidity makes it a bit flabby and almost overipe, but it holds together in the end. Not bad for the price if you like a wine that tastes like fruit.

2006 Darioush Vineyards Viognier**
06DarioushViognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Napa Valley, CA $35 @ The Winery 10/13/10
A medium, lemon-gold colored wine with an aromatic nose of citrus, stone fruit and honey with hints of vanilla and nutmeg. The palate is medium-bodied, creamy and lush with moderate acidity and flavors of peach, yellow apple, pear, lemon creme and a long, nutty finish. While I loved the ripe, fruitiness of this wine, there just isn't enough acid left to keep it well-balanced. While still quite drinkable, I wished I had had the chance to drink it a year ago. Tastes almost like a late-harvest, which I know isn't the winemakers intention, since I've happily enjoyed many past vintages of this wine. (14% abv)

2006 Denner Vineyards Viognier**
dennerviognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ The Winery 7/24/09
A pale, bright lemon colored wine with a subtle nose of tropical fruits and flowers with a hiint of vanilla and note of minerality. The palate is medium-bodied and round with well-balanced acidity. The wine had flavors of brioche, pineapple and mango, along with notes of honey and minerals on the moderate finish. Not quite as up front and fruity as I remembered when we purchased this wine. It's definitely on it's decline with a fairly muted nose and palate. While well-crafted, it's fruity exuberance is no longer there, though neither is the outright alcohol that many others have commented on. A nice wine, but a disappointment considering the price. Unfortunately, I waited too long. (15% ABV.)

2006 Stags Leap Winery Viognier**
sleap_m.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Napa Valley, CA $25 @ a dinner 3/2/08
Light straw in color, this wine offers aromas of honeydew melon, citrus and floral notes on the nose. The crisp entry introduces flavors of white peach, honeysuckle and grapefruit. Vibrant acidity leads to a full mouthfeel that transitions to a long, elegant finish featuring fruit to the end. Much better as the wine warmed up. A solid effort that shows what this grape is about, though not as complex as I'd hoped.

2005 Blair Fox Paradise Road Vineyard Viognier***
blarifoxviognier.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $26 Rhone Rangers Event 6/4/08
Pale, yellow-gold with intense aromas of stone fruit, orange blossom, vanilla and spice, which precede refreshing flavors of peach, apricot, pineapple, grapefruit, honeydew melon, honey and vanilla on the medium bodied palate. No malo or new oak keeps the wine fresh and fruity without the heavy creaminess, which is unfortunately becoming de rigour for this varietal in CA. A lovely wine that focuses on the classic varietal characteristics. Ready to drink.

2005 Bridlewood Winery Reserve Viognier**
bridlewoodviognier.jpg Region Price Drank Date
Santa Barbara, CA $18 Wine.com 1/10/07
The big nose is full of honeysuckle and orange blossom, accompanied by aromas of melon, buttered toast and rich tropical fruits that follow through on the palate with a nice creamy finish. The ripe flavors are countered with a good amount of grapefruity acidity. A lovely version for the price.

2005 Fess Parker Winery Viognier**
05fessviognier.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $22 Wine.com 9/22/07
This fragrant wine offers up aromas of peach, honeysuckle, apricot blossom, vanilla, and nutmeg with a touch of pineapple, ripe peach, lychee and citrus flavors. The subtle oak and spice combined with its refreshing acidity puts forward a balanced wine that is simple yet enjoyable.

2004 Neyret-Gachet Chateau Grillet Blanc***
04ChGrilletNG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Rhone Valley, France $52 Woodland Hills Wine 2/5/11
A water-white, straw-yellow colored wine with a subtle nose of stone fruit, lemon creme, chalk and sweet spice with hints of smoke. The palate was medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity, creamy and elegant with a lengthy finish. The flavors mirrored the nose and while they weren't intensely fruity, they were complex and lingering. I haven't had the chance to taste a lot of French versions of viognier (not much is imported here and what is is pretty expensive), so this one was a very interesting experience especially since it's 7-years-old. Chateau Grillet is its own appellation within Condrieu and after tasting this wine I understand why. I would not have expected a Viognier could age so well. The more it opened up, the more it grew on me. Worth $50+? Not to me, but an impressive wine nonetheless. (14% abv)

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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