June 01, 2006

Qupé 2005 Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Cuvée

Thursday night wine class, quiet group, studious as they sniff and swirl their glasses of pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Appreciative hums all around, a general discussion of the differences; business as usual. But then I pour another glass from a brown-bagged bottle: It's lighter-looking than the chardonnay, but exudes an exotic scent and flavor unlike anything else on the table.

With floral, peachy flavors underpinned by stony minerality, it inspires an excited murmur. "This feels like silk," someone says.

That's the beauty of viognier, which makes up half this wine, blended with chardonnay. "Tastes expensive," another adds. It does - but though it could compete with wines four times its price, it's $18. "How?" someone asks. I don't know. Vintner Bob Lindquist makes excellent wines from Rhône varieties and sells them for a song.

(Qupé, P.O. Box 440, Los Olivos, CA 93441; qupe.com)

This review first appeared in the Denver Post.

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