Mauro Sebaste Langhe Bianco Centobricchi 2015

White wine fills a little sister role to her older, more successful and characterful red. Always runner up, secondary, more milquetoast, even a little dreary, she learns to live in the shadow of Miss Red (Sr).

In that funny way that the universe has of turning stuff upside down, all this self-deprecation leaves whites to do their own thing. Low expectation is easy to live up (or down) to.

Which is why wines like this beauty slip so easily through the cordon of papparazzi waiting for the superstar Bordeaux and Burgundies; everyone’s looking in the other direction.

The nose on this instantly made me do an aromatic double-take. What? What the heck is that? What’s going on here? This is a viogner, right?

It is a viognier, and what a package. I had to go back to read just what a classic viogner looks, smells and tastes like to remind me, and then it hit: Wow. This is what a classic viognier should be. All the others are fine, but pretenders. Here’s the real deal.

This highlights a pretty good principle of learning about wine; that one should start with standards – the best examples of – specific grape types and acknowledged down-the-middle producers to learn the benchmarks. Then we can branch out to variations knowing how they vary from the start.

Frankly, I’m not sure if this is a benchmark viognier. For a start it’s from Italy. Then, it’s from Barolo country. (See, there’s that Big Sis Red thing again.) And yet there’s that WOW nose of low-key honeysuckle, beeswax and apricot.

From there there’s an intellectual, low-acid, full-feeling of apricot stone and stainless steel. Bingo: viognier. But viognier that’s been raised to work hard, look good, do her best and discover that there’s a whole world of admirers for just such a delicious young lady.

Forget about your older sister. What are you doing Saturday night?