In my ongoing quest to uncover white wines that are both palatable and pleasurable I recently found a gem of a winery by the name of Zaca Mesa.
Established in the early 70’s Zaca Mesa became the third winery to set up shop in Santa Barbara county. After some experimenting winemakers realized its location was the perfect breeding ground for growing traditional Rhône grape varietals.
Ed. Note: Rhône is a popular wine region in France.
I had the pleasure of trying two of Zaca Mesa’s distinct white wines – Z Blanc and Viognier – at the San Diego Food and Wine festival. Both of the bottles are crafted in a Rhône-style and I left the booth truly impressed with the quality of the wines and the reasonable price point. Whether you’re looking to experience white wine in a new way or you’re a tried and true white wine lover, these wines are worthy of your attention. Let’s dig in.
A little background, Viognier (pronounced in the French fancy way and phonetically sounded out by yours truly: V-on-yay) is best known for how it smells a.k.a. its aromatic qualities. The wine’s bright and full-bodied nature took me by surprise as those opposing characteristics are what make it so good. For a white wine lover this Viognier could easily come to represent the best of both worlds.
The wine is aged in french-oak for six months which is a fancy way of saying it
sat matured in a french oak barrel. Oak almost always gives wine a buttery, almost fatty, flavor. Kinda like how bacon grease adds a little punch to whatever dish you’re making.
Bacon and fancy wine terms aside this bottle is versatile enough to be enjoyed alone, with friends and certainly with a meal. It’s also 14.2% alcohol and $20 or less depending on where you purchase. Store locator below.
Anytime I can buy a good white wine blend I jump at the opportunity. As someone who prefers reds I’m always delighted with the way in which white blends seem to effortlessly create a balanced wine experience. I found this to be true with Zaca Mesa’s Z Blanc as well. It’s a classic southern Rhône-style blend of Grenache (66%), Roussane (26%) and Viognier (8%). Oh, and it’s also 13.9% alcohol.
These grapes come together to create a well-rounded, smooth and even-keeled white wine. It’s one of those white wines a red wine drinker could easily love. To be fair the more traditional crisp or outdoorsy characteristics of white wine, which I find to be disruptive, are lacking here so if that’s your jam then maybe stick with the Viognier. Or don’t because this wine is beautiful and should be purchased and drank with great enthusiasm.
The 2015 is a splurge because it’s about $2 over the $20 price point I normally ascribe to but you can likely find an older version for less online. Like this one. Still, if you want a treat – opt for this blend. You won’t be disappointed.
Click here to find Zaca Mesa wines near you.