A Very Nice Viognier

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

2014 McCay Cellars Viognier – At $24, this full body white wine from Lodi, California is a little pricey, but if you’re a Viognier fan or if you’re willing to stretch out of your comfort zone a little, this is a bottle worth exploring. It is particularly food friendly, and nothing pairs with Viognier like a beautiful sharp cheddar. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 McCay Cellars Viognier – At $24, this full body white wine from Lodi, California is a little pricey, but if you’re a Viognier fan or if you’re willing to stretch out of your comfort zone a little, this is a bottle worth exploring. It is particularly food friendly, and nothing pairs with Viognier like a beautiful sharp cheddar. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

McCay Cellars CorkWhile I knew I was going to the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference (WBC16), I didn’t actually register until President’s Day weekend. This year’s conference will be in Lodi, California, and to celebrate my registration, I opened up a bottle of Viognier from the region.

Now, long-time readers know that Viognier doesn’t tend to me a favorite of mine. While I try to encourage people not to “grape hate,” Viognier is definitely a varietal that I don’t drink as much as other white wines. I often find that Viognier creates a lot of wonderful expectation when I smell it, but is disappointing when I taste it because the characteristics I findon the nose are often muted or missing in the mouth. That said, I always try to go into a bottle open-minded.

2014 McCay Cellars Viognier – At $24, this full body white wine from Lodi, California is a little pricey, but if you’re a Viognier fan or if you’re willing to stretch out of your comfort zone a little, this is a bottle worth exploring. It is particularly food friendly, and nothing pairs with Viognier like a beautiful sharp cheddar. Rating 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 McCay Family Cellars Viognier

The 2014 McCay Cellars Viognier (winery, snooth) was a pale lemon yellow with a watery rim. The nose was beautiful, with white flowers, peaches, Asian pears, and hints of white pepper. In the mouth, there were nectarines, peaches, and a butteriness that I didn’t love. The wine was full-bodied with medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At an SRP of $24, this wine is one I have mixed feelings about. On it’s own, I loved the nose, and the flavors were luscious and enjoyable, although the butteriness was a detractor. When I paired the wine with Hubby’s slow-cooked chicken pot pie, though, the wine suddenly sang in mouth. It was absolutely delicious.

All in all, my thoughts on the 2014 McCay Cellars Viognier is that it’s not totally my style, but if you’re a Viognier fan or if you’re willing to stretch out of your comfort zone a little, this is a bottle worth exploring. If it’s not for you when you taste it, try enjoying it with some cheddar cheese (or a chicken pot pie), as the wine won’t you let you down.

Question of the Day: Is there a particular type of wine that you either gravitate towards or gravitate away from?

Suggested Retail Price: $24
Received as a sample.
Overall: 3.5 Corks

5 American White Wines for July 4

5 American White Wines for July 4 – July 4 cookouts are mean lots of good food, friends, and alcohol...and many people enjoy a nice glass of white wine. However, finding one that fits a BBQ atmosphere can be difficult. These wines are good options for all levels of wine drinkers. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

5 American White Wines for July 4 – July 4 cookouts are mean lots of good food, friends, and alcohol…and many people enjoy a nice glass of white wine. However, finding one that fits a BBQ atmosphere can be difficult. These wines are good options for all levels of wine drinkers. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Earlier this week, I posted some suggestions for American sparkling and rosé wines to open over this upcoming holiday weekend. Today is all about the white wine options, as white wine and warm summer weather were practically made for each other. I will apologize upfront to the Chardonnay lovers for not having one on the list. I normally would have at least one, but these other wines were really the ones that were striking my fancy for the Fourth of July. And with that, 5 white wine suggestions of your cookout:

2014 Lilly's Viognier from The Winery at Bull Run– This $29 bottle of white wine from Virginia is a little pricey, but it’s beautiful. It’s the type of wine that’s meant to be sipped slowly with friends on a hot summer day. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Lilly’s Viognier from The Winery at Bull Run

The 2014 Lilly’s Viognier (winery) is a beautiful white wine from Virginia. It’s a light lemon color with a bright floral nose. In the mouth, thee are apricots and white pepper mixed with hints of grapefruit and honeysuckle. Considering my iffy feelings about Viognier, I was surprised how much I loved this wine. At first I thought it might have been because I tasted it during a visit to the winery, but I bought a bottle that I opened at home and enjoyed it as much, if not more, than I did during my winery visit. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and purchased it for $29.

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc - This $8 white wine from California is not a complex wine, but it’s easy to drink and has a great quality-price ratio. If you’re having a lot of people over, this is a wine people will be happy to drink…especially outside on a hot summer day. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc

The Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc (website) is a white wine from California. This wine is like drinking summer in a glass. It’s light and full of honeydew melons, nectarines, and limes. It’s not a complex wine, but it’s easy to drink and has a great quality-price ratio. If you’re having a lot of people over, this is a white that people will be happy to drink…especially outside on a hot summer day. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the SRP is $8.

2014 Chateau St. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling – At $20, this white wine from Washington state would be the perfect wine for a summer salad, cold chicken, or just to sip on with good friends and conversation. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Chateau St. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling

The 2014 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling (winery)is a white wine from Washington state that has a touch of sweetness, nice acidity, and is incredibly drinkable. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe peaches and apricots mixed with honey and a hint of ginger. It’s refreshing and will pair nicely with the summer salads and cold fried chicken, or can be enjoyed all on it’s own. I gave this wine 4 Corks and purchased it for $20.

This $13 bottle of white wine from Idaho is full of tropical and stone fruits mixed with Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers. The touch of sweetness mixed with the acidity should make it a nice pairing with the ham, lamb, or turkey. Rating 4 out of 5. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Sawtooth Riesling

The Sawtooth Reisling (winery, amazon) is one of my summer house white wines. It’s full of tropical and stone fruits mixed with Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers. There’s also a hint of ginger. The touch of sweetness mixed with the acidity should make it a nice pairing with hot dogs and steamed crabs. A sign that I’m live fairly close to the Chesapeake is I find there are few things as enjoyable as pairing this wine with something that has been seasoned with Old Bay. I gave it 4 corks and usually purchase it for about $13.

Bouchaine Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris - This $30 white wine from Napa California is a little pricey for an everyday wine or a large gathering, but is a perfect palate-pleaser for a more intimate gathering. It’s an enjoyable sipper that is worth the extra cost. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Bouchaine Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris

The Bouchaine Vineyards Pinot Gris (winery) is a light-to-medium bodied white wine from Napa, California. The wine has a nice lime, grapefruit, and tart Granny Smith apple characteristics that mix with hints of nectarines and thyme. It’s a little pricey for a large gathering, but if you’re doing something a little more intimate, this Pinot Gris is sure to be a guest-pleaser. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $30.

Question of the Day:  What’s your favorite white wine for a cookout or picnic?

An Affordable & Delicious Viognier

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

While I love to bake, I’m not a very good cook.  It’s not that I don’t like cooking, it’s just that I don’t really know what I’m doing and, beyond the couple of dishes that I do well, the things I try are range from not very good to inedible.  So, after a few years together, Hubby decided to take over the cooking…and he’s been the dinner maker ever since.

This year, I decided that it was time for me to take over dinner one night a week.  I’m starting out simple, and except for the weeks that I’ve been traveling for work, I’ve stuck to my plan.  Everything I’ve made has been edible, but only a couple of the dishes were actually good.  One of the successes was a broiled chicken breast with lemon and thyme, which I found in Food & Wine magazine.

And, as any good cook does, I opened a bottle of wine as I started the evening’s cooking adventure, which included my using almost every dish in the kitchen and only one instance of the fire alarm going off (significant improvement over the three times it went off the first week I made dinner).

2012 Fortant Hills Reserve Viognier

2012 Fortant Hills Reserve Viognier

The 2012 Fortant Hills Reserve Viognier (winery) is a Vin de Pays d’Oc, which is a wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France, and this wine is made with 100% Viognier grapes.  The wine was a medium lemon yellow.  On the nose, there were apricots, pears, and white flowers.  In the mouth, there were apricots, pears, and white flowers with hints of honey and pineapple.  The wine was medium body with a nice minerality and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At an SRP of $13, this wine has an excellent quality-price ratio.  It has great flavors, is easy to drink, and is very food-friendly.  In fact, it was a beautiful pairing with the chicken breast and corn with thyme and butter that I made for dinner.

Long-time readers know that while I tend to be skeptical of grape-haters, Viognier is not one of my favorite types of wine.  In fact, several readers have been critical of my lack-of-love for the grape, so I’ve taken my own advice and been more open-minded towards it…and I’m happy that I have or I would have missed out on this wine.   If you’re looking for a great every day white wine, keep your eye out for the Fortant Hills Reserve Viognier.

Question of the Day: Are you the cook in your house?  How did you learn how to cook?  And, where do you get your dinner recipe ideas?

Suggested Retail Price: $13
Received as a sample.
Overall: 4 Corks

Top 5 American White Wines & Sparklers for July 4th

Yesterday I shared 5 American red wines to bring to a Fourth of July barbecue or cookout.  A lot of people don’t like drinking red wines in the summer heat, though.  Plus, there is something about sitting outside on a summer evening with a glass of crisp, white wine that just screams summer vacation, even if I’m not really on vacation.  Therefore, as you’re putting together your final shopping list for tomorrow’s July 4th party, here are some American white and sparkling wines to consider:

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

The 2009 Fess Parker Viognier (winery) is actually a blend of 80% Viognier, 13% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc, and 2% Roussanne grapes, and while you know my recent confession that I don’t tend to be a Viognier fan, this wine is definitely an exception.  The mix of tropical fruits—honeydew, pineapple, and champagne mangos—with hints of butter, vanilla, and wet stones makes for a delicious wine.  I made an avocado chimichurri bruschetta that I found on Pintrest for last Saturday’s get together with the Wine Ladies, and I think it would not only be good addition to a July 4th party, but also would pair nicely with this wine.  I gave it 4.5 corks and purchased it for $18.

2009 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavillion

2009 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavillion

The Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Pavilion (winery) is a blend of 96% Chardonnay and 4% Viognier grapes and is a more full-bodied white.  It has a nice mix of citrus—mostly grapefruits and limes—and nectarines, with touches of pears, passion fruit, vanilla, and ginger.  It’s wine that was made to enjoy with food and will go nicely with some of the cold salads that often are served as side dishes at a cookout.  I gave this wine 4 corks, and while I received it as a sample, the suggested retail price is $17.

2010 Sawtooth Winery Riesling

The Sawtooth Winery Riesling (winery) is an incredibly affordable Riesling from Idaho.  It’s full of stone fruit characteristics, which are mixed with Lemonheads candies, white flowers, honey, and a nice minerality.  While it has a touch of sweetness, the bright acidity and little bit of spritz in this wine make it very refreshing, particularly in the hot summer weather.  My one word of caution is that it is so light and enjoyable, you may forget that you’re drinking alcohol!  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $10.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (winerysnooth) is a sparkling wine that has a lot of sparkle.  It surprised me a little with its floweriness, but I enjoyed the way it mixed with the cream, limes, nectarines, and toast.  It had a bright acidity and was actually the sparkler I drank while watching fireworks on our roof deck last Fourth of July.  I gave this bubbly 4.5 corks and purchased it for $20.

Gruet Brut

Gruet Brut

The Gruet Brut (winery) is an affordable sparkling wine from New Mexico that would be a fabulous addition to a July 4th cookout.  It’s full of limes, granny smith apples, and toast with a nice acidity that keeps the sparkler fresh without making it too biting.  I gave this bubbly 4 corks and purchased it for $14.

Question of the Day: What are your plans for July 4th

Getting My Viggy on with Fess! (Wine Blogging Wednesday #78)

Let’s be honest, I’m not a huge Viognier fan.  I try.  I really do, particularly because it’s Virginia’s signature grape and I try to support the local wineries.  But, Viognier just never does it for me.  Flame away, Viognier lovers, but I prefer other white wines like a Verdejo or a Grüner Veltliner.  And, when it comes to Virginia wines, I much prefer a Virginia Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.

Considering my tumultuous relationship with Viognier, I was torn on whether to participate in this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW #78): Get Your Viggy On. The whole idea of buying a wine that wouldn’t wow me just to participate in WBW seemed like a waste of wine.  At the same time, my whole goal with the blog is to taste new wines…explore new horizons…push myself beyond my wine comfort zone.

So, when Hubby and I went grocery shopping, I decided to just take a look at the Viogniers to see if one caught my eye.  Low and behold, there was a 2009 Fess Parker Viognier…and I like Fess Parker wines.  Plus, I like Frank from Drink What YOU like, who is hosting WBW #78, and I like participating in Wine Blogging Wednesday.  So, I bought it, and on Sunday afternoon, as I was doing my weekly blogging and awaiting this week’s True Blood, I decided to get my Viggy on…and I’m so glad I did!

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

2009 Fess Parker Viognier

The 2009 Fess Parker Viognier (winery) is from Santa Barbara, California and is made with 80% Viognier, 13% Marsanne, 5% Grenache Blanc, and 2% Roussanne grapes.  The wine was a light lemon yellow.  On the nose, there was honeydew, white nectarines, champagne mangoes, and hints of pineapple and vanilla.  In the mouth, there were white nectarines, champagne mangoes, and hints of drawn butter, pineapple, vanilla, and wet stones.  The wine was well-balanced with a medium body and medium acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At $18, this wine is a delightful summer white that will be perfect for Friday evenings up on our roof deck (notice I said “will be,” as I expect the Wine Ladies and I will be drinking this white again in the near future).  It is food-friendly—maybe some guacamole and chips or some manchego cheese and prosciutto to snack on while on the roof deck—but also the perfect sip-and-type wine to accompany me on my afternoon of blogging.  My one word of warning is that the wine has 14.5% alcohol, so it definitely backs a wallop without tasting like it.  If you’re gonna get your Viggy on, this is the wine do it with!

Special thanks to Frank for hosting this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday.  Clearly, I wouldn’t have picked up this wine without the WBW excuse, and I would definitely have been missing out.  Cheers!

Question of the Day:  Are you a Viognier fan?  What one would you suggest for a wine lover who has a questionable relationship with the grape?

Price: $18
Purchased at Whole Foods Market
Overall: 4.5 Corks