Viognier is an ancient white grape of unknown origin. It is believed to have originated in what is present-day Croatia and brought to the Rhone by Romans. The vines are generally low yielding, but produce beautiful, straw-gold colored wines with potent aromatics.
The challenges of the grape are many. The powerful aromatics that distinguish the grape are easily damaged by too much oxygen exposure, therefore barrel fermentation requires a high level of skill on the part of the winemaker. In the vineyard the grapes require a long, warm growing season in order to fully ripen, but temperatures that are too hot will spike sugars before aromatics can develop.
Although once widely grown, Viognier's popularity ebbed to the point of near-extinction in 1965 when plantings dwindled to just 8 acres in the Northern Rhone. In addition to low production, the vines do not hit their peak in quality until 15 to 20 years of age.
Varietal bottlings are particularly fragrant and full-bodied white wines, and as a blending grape (often added to Syrah) lend softness and perfume. Typical qualities of the wine are stonefruit and flower aromas, tropical flavors with nice minerality. They're often dry, but may also be oaked, creamy and rich, depending on the winemaking style. In general, warmer regions tend to produce headier, low-acid wines, while cooler regions will result in bright wines with higher acidity. Dessert-style Viogniers are made from late-harvest grapes.
The lush, soft characteristics of the grape may vary based on growing conditions as well as the age of the vines. Most Viogniers are intended to be consumed young (with few exception) as aging reduces the exciting aromatics of the wine.
Viognier vines are now grown world wide, with significant plantings in France, Australia, and North America.
Tropical fruit flavors and a rich, creamy mouthfeel and mineral character. Aromas and flavors include honey, stonefruit, orange blossoms, with a long finish.
PRODUCERS: UNITED STATES
Steel Plow Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley
Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Barbara
Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley
Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles
Peay Vneyards, Sonoma Coast
Landa Vineyards, Sonoma Valley
Descriptive Analysis and Consumer
Can You Say Viognier?