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The Viognier Grape


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About Viognier

(Synonyms: Viogné, Vionnier, Viognier Jaune, Viognier Vert)

Background

Map showing the Rhone region of France

Viognier is a white-wine grape whose originas are unclear; best current guesses are that it arose in the same areas it dominates today, the northern Rhône area of France (and in particular the regions of Condrieu and Ampuis). It is today widely considered one of the dozen and a half or so “Noble wine grapes” of the world.

Viognier, like many another varietal, is a “rescue” of recent times. Once regionally popular, by a quarter-century ago its plantings had dwindled severely, to the point where it might have been considered at risk of extinction (c. 30 acres total). But a revival of interest has catapaulted the grape into international prominence in modern times.

At least one eminent wine expert has stated that modern Viognier plantings are of two clones, with rather markedly differing characteristics: an “Old World” clone, dominating plantings in Viognier’s home, the Condrieu appellation of France, and a “New World” clone found outside France but also in the Languedoc region of France. Besides French plantings, there are also now extensive vineyards of Viognier in the usual-suspect New World wine regions, the U.S. (notably in the Pacific Northwest and in Virginia), Oceania (Australia & New Zealand), South America (Chile & Argentina), and South Africa.

The foremost characteristic of Viognier wines is a powerfully floral nose, suggestive of Riesling or Muscat, but even more floral (if less “spicy”), thoroughly lush. These qualities manifest strongly when the wines are young, but as a generality do not last well in the bottle, with three years from vintage date often being cited as the limit for reliable drinking. It is not, however, that the wines become “bad” when aged; rather, it is that they lose that floral quality and evolve into crisp but, as some put it, “flat” wines. But, since the pungent florality is the distinguishing and wanted quality, drinking them young is advisable. French Viognier-based wines are typically drunk shortly after release; New World wines can be so handled, but are a bit more inclined to at least tolerate some mild age.

Factoid: DNA analysis has shown Viognier to be closely related to Syrah, as well as the Italian Freisa grape, and more distantly to the eminent Italian red-wine grape Nebbiolo.

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Some Descriptions of Viognier Wines

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Some Viogniers to Try

(About this list.)

Yalumba “Eden Valley” Viognier
(This is not their entry-level “Y Series” bottling, nor their more expensive “Virgilius”, which latter is our “splurge” wine as listed farther below.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Illahe Vineyards Viognier

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



San Simeon Viognier
(The tag “Stefano Vineyard” appears not to be a separate bottling but rather a note added to the wine’s label in recent years.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Château Beauchene Viognier Côtes du Rhône

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Bonterra Vineyards Viognier

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Yalumba “The Virgilius” Viognier.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.