Let us introduce to you a mellow, full-bodied white wine that almost ceased to exist. Read on about the history of this white grape from the north of France and come by to pick up a bottle of your own.
Viognier (pronounced “Vee-own-yay”) is a white grape variety that was all but wiped out in the 60’s. Only about 40 acres survived in the northern Rhône region of France. Plantings had doubled by the mid 1980s, but still almost all the officially planted Viognier in the world was in the Condrieu appellation on the right bank of the northern Rhône. By 2011, Condrieu plantings had risen to 400 acres and the variety was known and grown virtually throughout all the wine growing regions of the world.
There are now 2,620 hectares under Viognier vines. It is used to make wine in Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, and Canada but is best known as one of the great American white grape varieties, grown mainly in California. It is also very popular in Australia, where it accounts for a high percentage of the area under white-grape vines.
Viognier makes for stylish white wines, smooth, mellow and full-bodied. It has some subtle fragrances of spring flowers (violet, iris, peach), and flavours of stone fruits (mango, peach, apricot) along with pears.
Wines made from the Viognier grape are an epicure’s delight, giving immediate pleasure: Condrieu appellations are at their best after two or three years, by when they are opulent and exotic, while Château-Grillet, though cask-aged for 12 to 18 months, is ready for drinking very soon after bottling.
Today Viognier is increasingly found in red wines. Modern day winemakers, particularly in Australia and California, have been copying the original recipe for the North Rhône red wine Côte Rôtie, where Syrah is blended with a splash of Viognier. Winemakers claim that a small proportion (around 5%) helps stabilise the wine’s colour and deepen its texture.
Viognier pairs well with simple fare such as roast chicken as well as spicy foods such as Indian, Thai and Moroccan.
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Mission Hill’s 2015 Limited Edition Reserve Viognier was farmed from a single vineyard estate in West Osoyoos where the semi-arid climate and desert-like condition provide an ideal environment for grapes with a high skin-to-juice ratio. The result is vibrant flavor and intensity. After a gentle pressing they fermented the Viognier in a mixture of concrete eggs and stainless steel tanks. The concrete eggs have given the wine incredible texture and weight, and the stainless tanks have kept all that amazing apricot and peach fruit.
Sale ends Dec 31, 2018. Subject to change without notice.