Detailed tasting notes on four Viogniers from around the world
From obscurity bordering on extinction just a few generations ago, it has now travelled around the world.
Here are four Viogniers to try with Fiona's food recommendations of mild creamy curries like kormas or spicy south-east Asian curry or spicy dishes with a hint of peach or apricot.
If you haven't tried Viognier before, it may well be unlike anything else you have tried - in a good way.
Viognier is originally from the northern Rhône, so it likes a warm climate; it is relatively high in alcohol and low in acidity, so it is rich, plush and hedonistic.
There is no real "adjacent" grape variety to Viognier; Gewuztraminer has a similar high alcohol / low acidity profile, but is much more floral, perfumed and exotic. Viognier shares warm-climate Chardonnay's breadth and affinity for oak and lees-aging, but its flavour profile is more peachy-spicy.
The ripe-yet-dry wines of Alsace, especially Pinot Gris, may be the closest overall match to Viognier, and Marsanne has the same rich waxiness, but if you are new to Viognier, there's a chance that neither of these wines will be adequate reference points either.
My own experience of Viognier was relatively limited until I tasted my way through these wines; I'm still not 100% sure I could spot one blind now, but I have certainly gained an affection for its ripe, peachy richness.
The Yalumba punches above its weight for quality, while the Latour shows the sophisticated oaking you would expect from a Burgundy House. The Guigal is elegant, rich and sun-kissed, while the Viu Manent shows a little more freshness.
Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2020, (£9.49 Majestic, Asda, Morrison’s, The Co-op)
All Yalumba Viogniers are fermented using wild yeasts which add extra character and complexity to the wines.
white flowers, white pepper and stone fruit; waxy yet crisp with peach, apricot and pineapple fruit, some grapefruit and lemon pitch; honeysuckle and minerality with good, savoury underpinnings.
Match with spicy and rich dishes such as a Sri Lankan vegetable or chicken curry.
Louis Latour Ardèche Viognier 2018, (around £15 from Dickens House Wine Emporium, Il Vino, Worsley Wines, winedirect.co.uk)
planted on steeper hillsides, 30% aged in French oak barrels from Latour’s cooperage in Beaune, giving the wine a roundness and slightly spicy edge. The remaining 70% is matured entirely in stainless steel
yellow fruit, blossom and a touch of sweet spice; ripe stone fruits, marzipan and honeysuckle, rich, complex and rounded with very god underpinnings; long and savoury.
Match with duck terrine with chestnuts, lighter game or middle eastern dishes with a spiced, creamy almond sauce.
Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2019, (£12-£14.75, Tesco, North & South Wines, Clifton Cellars, Amps Fine Wines, Amazon)
A blend of 60% Viognier, with Roussane, Marsanne and others; the average vine age is 25 years.
floral with peach, orchard fruits and sweet spices; dense and concentrated with peachy fruit, fennel honeysuckle, white pepper and a savoury, waxy sappiness; very long and complex with excellent underpinnings.
Match with rich dishes such as roast pork or creamy curries
Chile Viu Manent Secret Viognier 2018 (around £14, Great Grog, Chester Wine and Beer, Albury Wine Store, La Zouch, The Wine Chambers, Flagship Wines)
From the Colchagua valley, which has warm days, cool nights and moderating breezes; the wine is fermented with native natural yeasts and vinified in stainless steel. Up to 15% of this blend can be ‘other varieties’ which vary each year depending on weather conditions.
gently floral with slightly musky orchard fruit; pineapple, white peach, pear, white pepper, ginger and sweet spices; fresh, clean and sappy with good underpinnings.
A versatile food wine, match with white-meat stews, turkey, grilled chicken, meaty fish, such as sea bass, poached salmon and tuna or a seafood risotto