Well as much as I say “new favourites”, it has been around a long time, it’s just that it’s always been such a pain for growers to get it right that other grapes were always a bit more commercially viable for those making it, and those drinking it. Luckily for all concerned that’s beginning to change.
Viognier is notorious for needing plenty of heat to ripen, but also offers up pretty low yields (not many bunches, so you don’t get much wine out of one vine). Even if you do get enough grapes, if it’s been a bit too hot, the grapes will ripen before they develop much taste. In the past this meant that you got fairly dull, high alcohol wines. Not exactly going to have you jumping over yourself to pick one up for relatively high prices.
Luckily there are some places in the world that have found the perfect places for Viognier. The best examples (arguably in the world) come from the Northern Rhône, in particular an area called Condrieu. The hot valley is cooled by regular winds so the flavour development is extended. Elsewhere in the South of France, Australia, and the USA growers have also found sites to get the best out of the grape.
What is the best of this grape? When if it’s done well it’s basically sat right in between full-bodied whites and aromatic fruit whites. You get the best of both worlds. Sometimes the texture can be a bit oily for some tastes, but the peach and pear fruit flavours are common throughout. The supermarket-under-a-tenner wines will do what it says on the tin. Fruit and body comes as standard.
It’s now a great option for both those producing it and us lot, who get to drink it.
Other posts in NWTW Week 17: