The Pontificis VRM 2015 is a $6.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive, White wine blend, 45% Viognier, 45% Roussanne, and 10% Marsanne sourced from the Hérault and Aude Valleys in the Languedoc wine region of southern France. TJ’s also sold the Pontificis GSM Red Blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) which is one of the wine worlds great blends that originates from the Rhone Valley in France. The Pontificis name, the Catholic Popes moved to the Rhone region in the 1300s for a while when things got out of hand in Italy, is also a shout-out to the Rhone region. And the VRM grapes (the GSM blend is actually a thing, Trader Joe’s is just goofing by calling this a VRM) are also grapes that are well-known in the Rhone Valley. So, this is a Languedoc homage to Rhone wines (it is probably easier to get a $6.99 blend from Languedoc grapes, it may be a bit pricier to use Rhone grapes, though with Trader Joe’s you never know). Viognier is a great all-around grape, it is used as a single varietal, an important component of blends and is one of the few White wine grapes that are occasionally blended with Red grapes. Marsanne and Roussanne are 2 grapes that are often blended together, I think here they are used in a dry style, but when picked very ripe make one of the sexiest wine blends around, it is rich and viscous, with plump, juicy flavors. This is a wine that was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and was also aged “on lees“, which means that the dead yeast and grape residue was left in the tanks with the juice. It adds flavor and texture to the wine. The alcohol content is 12.5%.
The color is pale sunshine yellow. The nose is delicate and pretty, a swirl of citrus combined with apple, peach, and pear, along with tropical fruit and spring flowers, not at all bad for a 7 buck wine. This is a slightly tart, balanced blend, with sleek acidity and good length. It starts with lemon mixed with peach, Anjou pear, and tart apple. The mid-palate shows slightly salty cashew, tangerine, lime and a hint of cream. This is a subtle, well-balanced wine, not necessarily what you would expect for a $6.99 wine, but in a good way. Actually, if it had a little more body to it, I could easily see it competing with wines in the $20 range. The Marsanne/Roussanne gives the Pontificis that viscous, almost oily texture I like. The finish is light and fades, but never really goes away.
The Pontificis VRM 2015 is a tasty, almost classy entry into the White wines of the Rhone Valley (by way of the Languedoc). At a penny under 7 bucks, there is little in the way of giving it a try, and if you are in a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc rut, this is an easy way to perk up your taste buds.The Pontificis VRM 2015 is a wine that will be at home on the deck or balcony when the weather turns warm.