Until relatively recently, plantings of Viognier were scarce, found exclusively in France's Northern Rhône Valley, where the grape originated. After nearly going extinct in the 1960s, plantings crept up in the 1980s, and the variety traveled to New World winegrowing areas like California, Australia and South Africa. It is bottled solo in the Northern Rhône, but is often blended with other Rhône varieties elsewhere, like Marsanne and Roussanne.
Viognier is not the easiest grape to grow. It's early-budding and mid-ripening, and it's vulnerable to disease, which can result in uneven ripening. The grape is also high in sugar and low in acidity; producers need to strike a careful balance between maintaining freshness and controlling alcohol levels. Generally, Viognier does well in warm climates and well-drained vineyards, and particularly well in limestone, schist and granite soils.
Viogniers are aromatic, with ripe fruit flavors like peach, apricot, melon and nectarine, as well as floral notes like chamomile. The fruit profile is riper and more exotic in New World bottlings. Lees stirring and malolactic fermentation are commonly employed to add weight, mouthfeel and complexity.
Where it's grown
- France: Yves Cuilleron, Georges Vernay, François Villard
- California: Alban, Tablas Creek
- Australia: Yalumba
Suggested food pairings
- France: smoked trout
- California: coconut-chicken curry