It’s that time of year again when we (for good reason) celebrate our mothers. It’s May and it’s still Spring, a great season for Texas wildflowers, which by the way, should also be celebrated.
Here in Texas, it’s really almost Summer, or what we call “Near-Summer” and the temperatures and humidity are starting to climb. Simultaneously, we are asking the question: How can we honor our mothers with toast, a sit-down dinner, or possibly a picnic lunch? What wine to choose? My suggestion is to go for a white wine that is both refreshing and, I’ll go out on a limb, a wine that many people refer to the most feminine of wines: Viognier. And… one there is a Texas winery that has elevated Viognier to the heights of perfection: Pedernales Cellars in the Texas hill country and Stonewall, Texas, to be exact, about halfway between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.
Viognier is a variety of white wine grape that originated from the Rhone Valley of France. However, it is now planted worldwide and some of the best is grown and made into wine right here in Texas. The Viogniers at Pedernales Cellars (and I will discuss two) are literally star performers. The winery is in Stonewall, Texas, in the hill country about halfway between Johnson City and Fredericksburg.
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See “Pedernales Cellars Wins Prestigious Grand Gold in its First-Ever French Wine Competition” for its Viognier Reserve – VintageTexas blog (click here).
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The simple and direct references to Viognier’s femininity likely come from social tradition. The wearing of perfume is generally a female trait, and this grape and its wines can be delightfully perfumed, even when made dry (with no residual sugar) often with notes of honeysuckle, lilac and rose petals not to mention aromatic tropicals. However, in more modern times, women have increasingly taken on roles of greater complexity, boldness and strength whether in the home, business, or politics. Viognier provides an admirable pairing for these modern women, too.
As a white wine, Viognier also provides exceptional complexity in its exciting and sometimes even spicy meld of fruit and aromatic qualities. It is capable of incredible strength and richness coming from its ability to handle our warmer clime that can result in bold rich flavors and, in some wines, even alcoholic strength, and tannic structure if oak aged.
Ergo, I present two wines that have been my go-tos for Springtime festivities like Mother’s Day or to simply celebrate a sunny Spring afternoon: Pedernales Cellars 2018 Texas Viognier and the 2019 Viognier Reserve. These are two wines are made from the same grape – Viognier – but in a different manner giving them strikingly different characteristics. One or both might put a smile on your Mother’s face, as well as yours.
2018 Pedernales Texas Viognier
This wine yields a light amber color in the glass and with a swirl, a sniff and a sip you can pick up its lean yet aromatic fresh-fruit style, best served nicely chilled for an aperitif or for indoor or outdoor dining, or by-the-pool relaxation. While lighter in style than it’s sister Pedernales wine, it has a blend of 13% Semillon that enriches the wine’s weight and tactile feeling on the palate and texture. On the nose, this wine has a complement of fresh fruit and floral notes including orchard ripe white peach and pear, tropical pineapple and ginger, and a hint of classic honeysuckle.
2019 Pedernales Viognier Reserve
This wine gained a somewhat richer amber color in the glass than the previous wine. This comes from both some added harvest ripeness and also from 30-40% of the wine being aged in French Oak barrels. As a result, the wine has a deeper stone fruit note of apricots followed by candied (yet dry) citrus and vanilla with tropical nuances of mango and ginger ending in a wonderful and weighty lingering on the palate and long voluptuous finish.
Viognier – Suggested Wine and Food Pairings
If you are hosting your mother to dinner and want to elevate the experience of the celebration still further, think of food pairings that play well with these wines: Examples are:
The lighter 2018 Pedernales Texas Viognier has a natural affinity for lighter seafood dishes such as oysters vinaigrette on the half shell, lightly-seasoned and flaky Gulf Coast red snapper or even Dover sole (with a dash of white pepper and minced dill, cilantro or parsley), and buttery shrimp scampi (even with a light dusting of chile powder).
The richer and more complex 2019 Pedernales Reserve Viognier will impress even your California Chardonnay drinking mother with its sturdy and poised style and structure. It calls out for baked salmon with a spoon of caviar, Mediterranean herbed and roasted chicken or pheasant, and smoked quail served with root vegetables and roasted garlic.
Let’s have a plan even if you don’t want to cook
OK, I agree that you might not feel able to cook a gourmet meal (and for sure don’t make your mother do it). Just, get your wines from Pedernales Cellars (order online here) or, if possible, your local market or wine shop. Then, either find a shady spot by the pool, or find the best BYOB restaurant you can. Then, sit back the give a hearty toast to that complex, spicy, bold (and possibly perfumed) lady that brought you into this world. Salute!
Don’t forget plan C – Improvise
If you can’t be there, go for a nicely crafted gift basket with two bottles of Pedernales wine (Viognier and Viognier Reserve), chocolates, cheese, canned smoked trout, water crackers, a packet of wildflower seeds, and don’t forget the vase of flowers. In case there is a preference for Red or Pink, Pedernales Cellars also has a complete line of wines in a variety of colors.