Classic aromas of Viognier are: Apricot, Yellow Peach, Lemon, Honeycomb and Gingerbread Cookies
Viognier is a highly aromatic white grape variety from the northern Rhone Valley in France. It is historically from, and still resides, in the regions of Condrieu and Ampuis where it was first mentioned in 1781. Viognier is also the grandparent, or half-sibling to Syrah and also has a close genetic link to Nebbiolo.
Viognier is the greatest story of popularity in the wine world. Fifty years ago there was a world total of 14ha. Now there are 4,395ha in France alone. It makes up the leading whites from Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet in the Northern Rhone. It is also used in many aromatic white blends in the southern Rhone and in the south of France.
Thanks to the Rhone Rangers of California there has been an increase of plantings from 10ha to 1,211ha over the last thirty years. Viognier is planted across the state but generally in the subregions of Santa Barbara County and the central coast. There are also some fantastic examples in Oregon and is one of Virginia states leading white grape varieties.
Australia has rather large plantings of Viognier, amounting 4,401ha – more plantings than any other country in the world. Here it makes fantastic single varietal wines that regularly compete with top Chardonnays. It is also blended with Shiraz, often making up 5-10% of the blend. This classic blend of Syrah and Viognier is a tradition founded in Cote-Rotie, of the Rhone Valley, where they are co-fermented. It is believed to bring out softer tannins and more floral aromas.
South Africa has 859ha planted in many of the top regions – with great white wine blends with Viognier dominating the blend. New Zealand has found a particular interest in Viognier increasing their plantings from 155ha to 854ha over the last decade.
Viognier makes wines that have moderate acidity and a full body. It is often best to think of every flower you can and slowly tick off a list whilst sniffing at your glass of Viognier. The leading floral and fruit aromas are honeysuckle, jasmine, orange blossom, musk, apricot (yoghurt) and peach. With some age these wines develop flavours of baking spice, honeycomb and gingerbread.