Viognier

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What is Viognier

Viognier is a white wine that originated from Southern France. In Northern Rhône, Viognier won't typically appear on the label and instead, the two appellations Condrieu or Château-Grillet will appear. When ageing Viognier wine, wineries choose whether to age it in stainless steel or new or older oak barrels. When aged in stainless steel, it preserves the full intensity of Viognier's flavours. Meanwhile, ageing it in oak barrels will add additional layers of vanilla and sweet spice. As Viognier ages, it has low acidity with nutty flavours like almond emerging. Viognier wines are full-bodied with fragrant notes of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. It can be also oak-aged to add a creamy taste with hints of vanilla. While it's considered a white wine, Viognier can be blended with the red grape Syrah in Côte-Rôtie. Generally, it's made as a dry wine and aged in oak, but it can also be used to make medium and sweet wines.

What is Viognier

Viognier is a white wine that originated from Southern France. In Northern Rhône, Viognier won't typically appear on the label and instead, the two appellations Condrieu or Château-Grillet will appear. When ageing Viognier wine, wineries choose whether to age it in stainless steel or new or older oak barrels. When aged in stainless steel, it preserves the full intensity of Viognier's flavours. Meanwhile, ageing it in oak barrels will add additional layers of vanilla and sweet spice. As Viognier ages, it has low acidity with nutty flavours like almond emerging. Viognier wines are full-bodied with fragrant notes of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle. It can be also oak-aged to add a creamy taste with hints of vanilla. While it's considered a white wine, Viognier can be blended with the red grape Syrah in Côte-Rôtie. Generally, it's made as a dry wine and aged in oak, but it can also be used to make medium and sweet wines.

History of Viognier

Viognier wine has been most famously grown and produced in Northern Rhône where other appellations such as Condrieu and Château-Grillet are also grown. Its history is relatively unknown, but it is presumed to originate from present-day Croatia and was brought to the Rhône by the Romans. While it can make for fine single-varietal wines, it is also often blended with other white wines. In Rhône Valley, Viognier wine is blended with Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne to create intriguing and interesting white wine blends. Due to its aromatic complexity, Viognier is also added in a Rhône red wine that is otherwise made with Syrah. The grape was almost extinct in 1965, with only 8 acres in Northern Rhône producing just 1, 900 litres of wine then. Historically, it's been known for its low and unpredictable yields, reducing returns for winemakers. Other wine regions grow the Viognier grape, including the United States, South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In California, the Rhone Rangers helped increase the interest of Viognier. The Viognier vine also received international attention growing in Virginia, and in 2011 was named the state's signature white grape. Meanwhile, in Australia, Viognier is blended with Pinot Gris to create an extremely aromatic wine that balances the minerality of Pinot Gris with the tropical fruit flavours of Viognier. Viognier from Eden Valley, South Australia presents stone fruit flavours with exotic freshness. Meanwhile, in South Africa, the Charles Back of Fairview in Paarl was the reason for the introduction of Viognier to the region. The first plant material was imported in 1989 and Back became the first producer of the Viognier labelled wine in the 1990s. While it's widely planted in all the wine regions in South Africa, it represents a relatively small portion of the total area under wine grape production in the region compared to other South African white wines like Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.

Taste Profile

Viognier wine is known as an aromatic wine which excuses unique floral aromas and fruit flavours. Terpenes are found in the Viognier grape, which contributes to the floral fragrance notes, while Esters formed during the fermentation give off fruity flavours and aromas. Oaked versions of Viognier give off a subtle vanilla and smoke fragrance on the nose. Viognier is also known for its rich fruit notes such as orange blossom, apricot, peach, and honeysuckle along with a hint of spice. If you like Chardonnay, you might like Viognier. It's viscous and full-bodied, and despite smelling sweet can be dry.

Food Pairings

Viognier appeals to many wine drinkers. Since the wine can be produced in different wine styles, winemakers are much craftier in expressing the land where the Viognier is grown. Because of this, it's important to respect its delicate floral notes and medium acidity for Viognier food pairing. Focus on expanding its core flavours while ensuring the food isn't too acidic or bold. Generally, dishes that match well with Chardonnay and oaked Chenin Blanc but with a little spice can go well with Viognier. Viognier taste best paired with delicate meats or scallops such as roasted chicken or poached salmon. With cheese, you can try comté or gruyere. Dishes with ginger, saffron and coconut will also go best with Viognier.

How is Viognier best served?

It's best to serve Viognier chilled in a white wine glass, around 45–55°F / 7-12°C. Due to its aromatic qualities, you don't need to decant Viognier. Cooler Viognier bottles are more lively and fruity, while less-chilled ones allow the floral and honey notes to stand out. You can test out how the temperature affects the taste of the wine when you pour a well-chilled bottle of Viognier into your glass and take a sip every few minutes as its temperature rises. Depending on the winemaking style, Viognier can hit its peak at 1-2 years of age, though some stay high-quality for up to 10 years. Generally, Viognier wine is meant to be drunk young. Despite being part of the New World, South Africa has a rich wine history dating back to 1659. Enjoy the best wines from this region with Message In A Bottle and its South African wine collection that spans from bold-flavoured red wines to fruity, tropical white wines.