Donelan’s Venus is nearly all Roussanne—97.5 percent—but adding Viognier to the blend, and the label, is an explicit stylistic choice.
Roussanne is a waxy white grape, also a little tannic. (The derivation is the same as the word “russet,” for its tanned and somewhat bitter skins.) It can make a grippy white wine with a soft place in the middle where the fruit should be.
Viognier, meanwhile, is a peachy fruit-bomb, at least when fully ripe. In its native clime of the northern Rhône, it often fails to attain such splendor, but in California this is not usually a problem, and in fact it sometimes blows up completely.
Blending these two—Roussanne and Viognier—is like mixing black paint into bright yellow: you get an electric shade of green, a color no one would have expected.
This wine commingles Roussanne’s structure with Viognier’s fruitiness. There are suggestions of green tea and beeswax, laurel and honeysuckle, white peach and quince paste, the whole thing pinned down by a walnut-skin nuttiness. Despite experiencing malolactic, the wine retains a sappy, green-grapey-ness that brightens the profile.
It’s a good wine for aged and firm cheeses, roasted poultry with chestnuts, mushroom risotto, or pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and sage.
2015 Donelan Venus Roussanne-Viognier Sonoma County
13.1% abv | $48 (sample)