Wine Dharma

Viognier: all you need to know about this noble white wine

Viognier, Viognier grape and characteristics, Condrieu, best French wines Some poets would define a great Viognier “of elementary fatality, but with an innate ability to seduce…” The Viognier grape was planted in France two thousand years ago at the behest of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus, a Croatian native, taking root almost exclusively in the northern part of the Rhone Valley, in territories dominated by a continental climate and swept by Mistral.

Its ability to withstand drought was not enough to avoid being saddled with the epithet Galoppine (brat) to define its low and undisciplined productivity, prone to diseases such as powdery mildew. His elective soils are Condrieu’s steep and terraced slopes, with an exquisite composition similar to those of Burgundy’s Côte Blonde, made of heterogeneous granite rich in mica and streaked with clay and gravel.

The disaster of the Phylloxera and the First World War almost completely wiped out the cultivation of this variety (in Condrieu in 1968 only 14 hectares resisted), but since the early 70’s the return of the international consumer taste toward dry white has pushed Volubile winemakers to rebuild their own vineyards and with them the image of the Viognier vine.

Today Viognier has a patchy spread in France (Southern Rhone, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence) and the rest of the world: California, Australia, Spain, Greece, Austria, a lot in Italy, with several dozen companies focused on the production of monovarietal Viognier of high quality, also very different from each other.

This variability is due to the different soil compositions, from limestone to the moraine, to clay or sandy or gravelly, and of course to different latitudes as well as to the wine production, which ranges from simple wines made with steel vinification to more than 12 months barrel-aged wines.

Viognier’s organoleptic characteristics

Viognier is a wine with unique characteristics, combines the structure of the best Chardonnay with the freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc and its bouquet offers “aromatic” and tropical notes worthy of a great Gewurztraminer.

It can unleash all its great aromatic splendor only if carried to perfect ripeness. But considering that Viognier is a late harvest grape, this can be a problem since freshness and its delicious aromas could vanish and alcohol could get too aggressive.

It is not easy to perfectly grow Viognier and striking a proper balance between soft and hard parts of the wine: if harvested too early it’ll give pleasant but feeble wines that have just a hint of its incredible depth.

The color is a very bright straw.

The bouquet is a riot of flowers with lily of the valley, lemon blossoms, narcissus, gardenia, acacia, and lavender flowers, which are flanked by classic notes of peach, citrus peel to finish with star anise, sage, and cardamom.

The scents that make you recognize the Viognier are a typical fragrance, an inextricable mix triad of gooseberry, acacia, and apricot.

The palate is warm, round, sumptuous with medium freshness, moderate saltiness and a persistent finish that fades into apricot memories.

Viognier’s serving temperature

The most simple bottles should be served at a temperature of 8-10 degrees, for the more complex and rich Viognier dare with 10-12 degrees.

Viognier food pairings

Viognier food pairings, pumpkin ravioli with mostarda We are talking about a full-bodied, round and fruity wine, so you can range from buttery fish to white meat and prepare hearty dishes: pumpkin tortelli alla mantovana, spaghetti with clams, rice noodles with prawns and vegetables, sweet and sour pork, Vitello tonnato, ravioli of parmigiana herbs, truffle risotto, spaghetti carbonara, tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms.

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