Three things I need to tell you before I say anything else; I'm cheap - I don't believe in paying $3 when I can pay $2, I don't like white wine very much; I'll have the occasional glass of Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc and that's it, and having said that, I'm IN LOVE!!!

On principle, I ordinarily, steadfastly refuse to buy a bottle of wine over $25 because I truly believe good wine need not cost an arm and a leg and in these difficult economic times, I believe vintners and other producers of non-essentials *ducks flying brick* should make this their mantra. If I really like a wine and it's beyond my (some say) stringent budget, I'll stalk my quarry relentlessly, until its price is slashed drastically, before I swoop in for the kill. So, last week, I was strolling around a mall basement when I saw this new bottle shop that still smelt of the wood it was panelled in (that can't be good for the wine, can it?) and politely and rather shamelessly inquired if there was any Condrieu or Viognier to be had at a discount.

The shop owner, to his credit, did not flinch, even managed a cordial smile and presented me with a bottle of Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2007. "It's not all Viognier", he told me, "but substantially so, with Marsanne, Roussanne and Bourboulenc in the mix". The pricetag read $35, but his manner and the fluid way in which the grape names tumbled out of his mouth, was wholly and I suspect, intentionally, seductive; I was sold.

I brought back my bottle and stashed it in the fridge, waiting for hubby's permanent return from his foreign posting, to share it with me over a celebratory dinner of roast game hen with cumin crusted butternut squash. Hubby came back 2 days ago and the game hens are still in the freezer, but the bottle of Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc now stands two-thirds empty.

When I opened the bottle, I was hit by a rich floral bouquet reminiscent of jasmine buds, tea rose and orange blossom honey. Its colour in the glass was unexpectedly pale. The first sip revealed stone fruit; white peach and apricot with a hint of musk melon and creamy vanilla. There was a distinct but pleasant minerally after taste that lingered satisfyingly and gave a nice edge to all that floral exuberance. The finish was clean and keen as a knife. For all the richness of it's aroma and flavour, it was elegantly dry, though not austere. It reminded me very much of very, very good champagne, without the fizz. I would definitely buy this again though preferably, not at this price.

I had this with some mac and cheese and the two may seem like strange bedfellows but proved to be a pleasant pairing; even the sharp tang of the cheddar and the garlic in the macaroni could not subdue the intoxicating perfume of this beautiful wine. I enjoyed this so much, I'm keeping the remaining third for some solitary pleasure tomorrow...when hubby is sound asleep! Price SGD 35 at Bottles and Bottles, B1-28, Tampines 1.