If you’ve ever had Viognier wine, I bet you can still remember the first time you discovered it. Whether trying it while visiting France, or perhaps in California’s wine region or even while in Virginia (more on that later), Viognier stands out.
For the newbie wine drinker, seeing the word “Viognier” on a menu amongst the Chardonnays and Cabernets that they are probably more familiar with can feel intimidating.
But just because this wine has a name that is harder to pronounce than some others doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked!
In fact, this variety of wine was first mentioned in the late 1700s, yet was almost extinct by 1965.
Lucky for Viognier, it had a comeback in the 1970s with more regional, national and international plantings. And for good reason – this wine is enjoyed by many with its unique aroma and flavor.
Where does Viognier come from?
Most Viognier grapes are planted and grown in the south of France.
More specifically, they are grown in France’s Rhône Valley – specifically associated with Condrieu and Château-Grillet.
Although most of this variety comes from this area, that is not to say that it is the only region that produces this varietal!
Viognier grapes are a deep yellow color that grows best in a warmer climate with cooler nights, so there are some other areas in the world that have also started to grow these grapes over the years to produce a delicious wine.
There are some winemakers in Australia’s Eden Valley and California’s Central Coast that have helped this wine gain popularity in their regions.
Additionally, Viognier is now grown in New Zealand, South Africa, and Virginia, where it has its own reputation as a state-specific variety as it has been named the state’s signature grape.
How do you pronounce Viognier?
Viognier is a French name that is pronounced “Vee-own-yay.”
Which foods pair well with Viognier wine?
Viognier is a wine that pairs extremely well with food and is probably best enjoyed alongside a meal.
It is important to pair Viognier with foods that are not too bold or acidic, just as the wine itself has a medium acidity with wonderful floral notes.
Foods with rich and creamy flavors as well as aromas that will heighten Viognier’s taste are best.
Below are some great Viognier food pairings:
- A mild, creamy Thai curry
- Sweet seafood like scallops, crab, lobster, and shrimp
- Soft and creamy, buttery cheeses such as gruyere, French brie, and aged gouda
- Poultry like roasted turkey and grilled chicken
- Chicken salads with fruit like apricot, mango, or grilled peaches
- Dishes with spices like saffron, ginger, and coconut
- Root vegetables including sweet potatoes, carrots, and spicy butternut squash
What does Viognier smell and taste like?
Viognier is a wonderfully aromatic grape variety that may give off notes of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, and tangerine, as well as spices like nutmeg and clove.
It is typically aged in oak and made as a dry wine, but the grape can also be used to make medium and sweet wines, too.
The length of time that this grape is grown and when it is harvested can make a big difference to its taste, though the grapes usually have mid-to-late ripening, resulting in a deep golden wine.
Viognier grapes are also thick-skinned, which results in an ability to produce high levels of sugar, giving a full-bodied wine with texture that can reach high alcohol levels.
If harvested too late, Viognier may have a more oily or flabby taste with a poor flavor profile.
It takes a precise winemaker to produce the wonderfully complex, aromatic wine that Viognier can be!
What are the best regions for Viognier?
As noted previously, Viognier grows best in Condrieu region in France’s Rhône Valley.
However, there are also varieties in parts of California, Virginia, and Australia which have had great success.
Similar wines to Viognier
While it is hard to say that other wines taste similar to Viognier, this golden-colored, full-bodied white wine may be a perfect choice for those who enjoy Chardonnay and are looking for a rich, weighty wine with bolder flavor with low acidity.
Besides Chardonnay, Johannisberg Riesling or Torrontes are two aromatic white wines that have some similar flavor profiles to Viognier.
An oaked Chenin Blanc or Vermintino are also great choices to try if you enjoy Viognier and want to try something different.
What are the best Viognier wines?
The best Viognier wines are found in its home in Rhône Valley, France, though some California Viogniers have been becoming increasingly popular as well!
Viogniers from France will typically cost more money, so budget as well as taste come into play when choosing the best Viognier wines.
Below is a wide selection compiling some of the best Viognier wines as noted from various sources and ratings, with price ratings listed high to low.
- Chateau-Grillet, Rhone, France, 1970: $$$$
- M. Chapoutier Condrieu Coteaux de Chery, Rhone, 2014: $$$
- E. Guigal Condrieu Luminescence, Rhone, France, 2015: $$$
- Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, 2016: $$$
- Yarra Yering 2018 Carrodus Viognier, Yarra, Australia: $$$
- Omina Romana 2018 Ars Magna Viognier, Italy: $$
- Joseph Phelps Vineyards 2006 Napa Valley Viognier, Napa Valley, CA: $$
- Chrysalis Vineyards 2010 Viognier, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia: $
- Conway Family Wines 2009 Deep Sea Viognier, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA: $
- San Simeon 2018 Viognier, Paso Robles, California: $
- Jean-Luc Colombo La Violette Viognier, France: $
- Château-Grillet Condrieu La Carthery, Rhone, France, 2017: $
- Domaine Salliès 2007 Viognier, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France: $