What is Viognier?
Viognier is one of the great success stories of recent times. Never one of the easiest grapes to grow, production had shrunk back to a tiny amount in the Northern Rhone at Chateau-Grillet. There Condrieu was famed for its exotic perfume and rich, full body.
Slowly, and with better, more reliable vines, production has spread. There are now plenty of hectares planted in southern France, though not all producing grapes with much of an aroma. In Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, has made a feature of its Viogniers, first planted in 1979.
Chile, California and South Africa have also all proved promising for Viognier.
Increasingly important is the role Viognier plays in Syrah/Shiraz production. New World winemakers are rediscovering the tradition of Rhone Syrahs. Winemakers add a dash of five to ten per cent Viognier to the Syrah, either as grapes or as made wine to boost the aromas. It also has the effect of boosting the colour and making it more stable.
Main characteristics of Viognier
Colour: white; pale to light gold
Body: medium to full bodied
Tastes: can have heady aromas of peaches and apricots, full bodied with relatively high alcohol
Often blended with: increasingly with (red) Shiraz / Syrah
Spotter’s guide: France, famously Condrieu in the Rhone), as well as Languedoc-Roussillon; Austria; Spain; Australia; Argentina; Chile; California; South Africa
Keep or drink? Drink; enjoy while the aromas are still fresh
Price range: £5.99 to £35