Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: A Marital Blend from Napa

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Here's a case where one plus one equals a wine too good to pass up. We're talking the 2008 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, a marriage of two under-appreciated grapes made in the Napa Valley and consummated in your mouth. Unlike most marriages, though, it will only set you back 12 bucks, and year after year, is so reliably tasty you won't even think of divorce.

Like a good marriage, the partners are thoroughly compatible. The first grape is a Chenin Blanc, which makes up 80 percent of the bottle. It delivers a crisp, vaguely herbal acidic backbone -- think lemon-lime and grapefruit -- the lean, athletic husband, perhaps.

Viognier (the remaining 20 percent) is all about ripe, luscious, summery fruit -- pears and melons, with beguiling floral-honeysuckle aromas -- the wife, if you will, with sensuous curves in all the right places. Chilled and sipped on one of our balmy spring evenings, the pair will deliver all the oral satisfaction of. . . well, you know.

They can also make a meal very happy, especially if it's spicy Asian or Latin seafood or chicken, which respond like crazy to their refreshing sensuality.


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