… with the steelhead salmon that LL was preparing for dinner last night. Looking in the wine refrigerator in the garage, all I saw were bottles of chardonnay from California, and I knew by experience what kind of chardonnays these were: big, blowsy, brassy, buttery and blechy. So I went to my neighborhood retail store and bought a bottle of the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc cbv_07_final1.jpg Viognier 2007. Much better!

Steelhead salmon is leaner than some other members of this finny tribe, so LL seared these fillets briefly, wrapped them in strips of prosciutto and roasted them at 350 degrees for 10 or 12 minutes. While orzo was cooking, she sauteed snow peas with chopped tomatoes, red onions and capers. That was dinner, and a fine one it was.

Pine Ridge’s Chenin Blanc Viognier is one of California’s great bargain wines. For 2007, the blend is 80 percent chenin blanc, from Clarksburg (west of Sacramento, where the grape grows best in the Golden State), and 20 percent viognier from Lodi. The alcohol level is a sensible and quaffable 12.8 percent. Made all in stainless steel, this is a captivatingly fresh and appealing wine. The bouquet teems with pear and yellow plum and a cold green grape element, wreathed with camellia and honeysuckle. The wine is notably crisp and lively. Flavors of lemon and pear are giving a slight twist of grapefruit for its zestiness and hint of bitterness on the finish. The texture is lovely, smooth and silky. The 2008 version of this wine will be released soon, but there’s plenty of the ’07 around. Very Good+. I paid $14, but you can find it around the country as low as $9. Closed with a screw-cap for easy opening.