I traveled all the way to a ramen place in Richmond, British Columbia, to find—from Chile—one of the best cheap white wines I’ve ever had: the 2013 Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier. This is a grape that can produce very expensive, sublime wines in France from the tiny region of Condrieu. Viognier can also produce very oily, heavy, perfume-y (like potpourri) wines that aren’t cheap, either. But as I drank this with my pal Sonja, I could not stop raving about the Cono Sur and being astonished at the same time. (Sorry, Sonja, for the broken record routine.)
Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier
This Viognier was plenty aromatic in the most pleasing of ways and extremely refreshing. A very small percentage of the wine (5%) sees time in oak barrels and this touch of wood adds extra depth and a smidge of welcome richness and texture. A quick spin on WineSearcher reveals the average price in the US is 9 bucks. Buy it by the case and make it your house white wine.
I GIVE IT 103 POINTS ON THE FOREIGNER “HOT-BLOODED” FEVER SCALE.
Also, do go to G-Men Ramen Shop in Richmond. Try the Tan Tan Men, which features spicy sesame and peanut pork bone broth. It was sensational. So was the fried chicken (tori karaage) off the izakaya menu. The batter was super-crispy and the thigh meat very flavorful. Both were a perfect match with this Viognier. (I’d say the wine “killed it” but that’s kind of an inside joke between me and Jay Friedman, who recommended this place. Please peruse his blog, Gastrolust.)
And while my first night in Richmond began at a Japanese restaurant, I was actually in town (on the cusp of Chinese New Year) for a media tour focusing on exploring regional cuisines of China. Stay tuned for tales of epic dim sum eating, a few good wines, new friends, and Underberg.
Note: I went with “cheap” rather than the more genteel “inexpensive” to describe the Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier. Forgive my coarse ways. I love this wine! (Now that’s more like it.)