Viognier Wine Guide
Welcome to the Viognier Wine Guide from Cass Winery. Viognier is not the easiest grape to grow. It’s a complex process which, when done right, yields the wonderfully aromatic and richly flavorful Viognier variety, which many connoisseurs rank as among their favorites. A white wine, Viognier traces its origins to southern France, in the Condrieu region. Viognier has an interesting flavor profile, as we’ll soon find out, and its wholesome flavors make it a great wine to pair with a wide variety of foods.
Where is Viognier produced?
Legend has it that back in 281 AD, Roman emperor Vespasian wrecked the vineyards of Condrieu following a revolt by the locals. Later, in an effort to replace the vineyards destroyed, the Roman emperor Probus imported the Viognier grape variety into the Condrieu region from Dalmatia, which is in present-day Croatia, a few hundred miles away. Other prominent regions include Barossa Valley and Eden Valley in Australia, Tuscany and Piedmont in Italy, Paarl, Elgin, and Stellenbosch in South Africa, and other countries including Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, and Switzerland. In the United States, the primary growing regions include Sonoma, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, Monterey, and Virginia.
What is the flavor of Viognier like?
Viognier is a full-bodied wine that isn’t too high on the acidity scale. And although it has a substantially fruity flavor, it doesn’t taste too sweet to the tongue, being more subtle than a hit of sugar; the primary flavors in a typical Viognier include hints of apricots, honeysuckle, orange blossoms, gingerbread, and peach. Because of its distinct aromas, Viognier is one of the most easily recognizable varieties, and is ideally drunk young, before the grape ripens and matures too much, and before its low acidity fades.
What does Viognier smell like?
Viognier smells sweet to the nose, but it writes an entirely different story on the palate. Here, it is generally dry and soft, because of its low acidity, while the taste is full-bodied, distinct, and varies slightly depending on the climatic conditions in which the grapes were grown and the manner in which the wine was produced. Typically, Viognier is bottled as a varietal wine, and the grapes are generally not aged in new oak because the producers believe in the importance of keeping the flavor of Viognier crisp and fresh, in the bottle. However, some versions of Viognier are aged in oak, and these wines have a denser, creamier taste with hints of vanilla.
What foods is Viognier best paired with?
Like most rich wines, Viognier is great as an aperitif on colder days. Beyond this, the wine pairs splendidly with poultry and fish. In particular, Viognier is best combined with rich and creamy poultry dishes, and with meatier varieties of fish. Interestingly, it also pairs beautifully with seafoods like crab, shrimp, and lobster, and with spicier foods like Indian curries; it’s less well-known, but as a versatile part of your cellar, Viognier can adorn a wide range of meals and events.
Some common food pairing
There are a few tricks of the trade to determine what the best food is for Viognier wine. Here are some examples for you,
- Meats - roasted chicken, turkey breast, teryaki chicken, sea bass, shrimp and orange chicken
- Cheese - brie, gruyere, comte and fondue cheese
- Herbs - fresh dill, lemongrass, ginger and shallot
- Vegetables - cauliflower, butternut squash, leeks, polenta
Viognier is, ultimately, a wine that borders between bold and fruity aromas. So, if this white wine tickles your taste buds, you’ll probably also love Torrontés from Argentina and dry Moscatel from Portugal, which share similar floral notes as Viognier, and Marsanne, Roussanne, and Chardonnay, which resemble creaminess of oak-aged Viognier.
Is Viognier Wine Sweet or Dry?
Although the color and smell of a Viognier suggest a sweet white wine, when you actually taste a Viognier wine you will see that it is predominantly dry, with a sweet tone in the wine. So in other words, Viognier wines are dry and sometimes can taste sweet depening on how the wine was made.
Do you chill Viognier?
Typically Viognier is served at slightly below room temperature. This actually lets the wine's taste come through in full rich flavors. Often times people have hard fast rules when it comes to serving wines and temperatures. But in reality serving temperature can be just a personal preference but in general white wine and in this case Viognier, tend to be served chilled and red wines will be served about at room temperature.
What is the aroma of Viognier?
Although there are different aromas, the Viognier's primary smell is that of rose petals mixed with a perfume-esque smell. Many other people also say that Viognier smells sweet (some say it smells like orange or something sweet that is the citrus base). One common misconception is that even though Viognier smells sweet, there is actually no sugar and is typically made in a dry style (meaning no residual grape sugar). Often times, people note the sweet smell of Viognier wine smells similar to fruit that is a little exotic and tropical.
When buying Viognier Wines
- Typical Viognier wines ABV or alcohol by volume is from about 13.5%-15.5%. If you want a big bolder and richer Viognier flavor go for a higher ABV. If you want a softer, less bold Vioginer wine go for a 14% ABV or less.
- Generally there are two different sytles to producing Viognier Wine. The two differences are: new oak aging vs no oak aging. The new oak aging delivers a creamier, richer less fruity taste. The no oak aging produces more tropical, floral fruit flavours.
- The best regions that grow Viognier Wines are sunny regions with temperatures that are moderatly cool and have nearby bodies of water.
- Here are the best regions: Northern Rhone Valley in France, Walla Walla Valley in Washinton Virginia, Elgin in South Africa, Eden Vally in South Australia, and Paso Robles in Central California.
The actual Viognier grape origin is unknown. However, most agree that Viognier wine originated towards what is present-day Croatia, then brought over to Rhone by the Romans. It is no commonly known but the Viognier almost went extinct in 1965. At that time, the grape was only planted on about nine acres in Rhone.
What are Viognier wine known for?
Most people enjoy Viognier wines because of their floral aromas and terpenes. The aromas depend on where the wines were grown, the conditions on the area in terms of weather and the quality of the vines themselves. Some of the variety of Viognier are aged but most of the Viognier wines are meant to be enjoyed young. Viognier wine is commonly a sweeter wine but they are mostly dry. There is not much acidity in Viognier wines and in addition, the wine also sometimes have that enhanced perfume taste. DNA analysis has also shown a very close relationship between Syrah and Viognier wine.
Overall Viognier wine ranges from lighter more airy flavours like orange, tangerine and other sweet aromas to more creamier aromas like nutmeg, vanilla and sometimes even cloves. The variety of flavors come from the different wine producers and how they make the wine. Compared to Chardonnay, Viognier wine is a little softer and often times a bit lighter and more aromas in it.
So there you have it! That is our guide to Viognier Wine. If you have any other questions let us know in the comment box.