#newwinethisweek Week 17 – Viognier, France
This week’s #newwinethisweek selection is a bit of a Phoenix from the flames story; back in the mid 1980’s records showed there was only 32 hectares of Viognier planted in the entire world! These days it has become a bit of a dinner party favourite and is grown all over the planet.
We are focussing on France this week… if it goes down well we’ll investigate other regions later on this year. The real heartland of Viognier is in the Northern Rhone, in the appellation of Condrieu, where most of the 32 hectares were planted back in 1985; today there are over 100 hectares planted on the steep, terraced slopes. These wines often show their best after 5 to 10 years in bottle and certainly don’t come cheap.
There is also a very interesting appellation just south of Condrieu called Chateau Grillet. The entire appellations is owned by a single producer and produces only 100% Viognier wines from a tiny 3.8 hectares of planted land, making it one of the smallest appellations in France.
The cheapest Condrieu I could find in the UK supermarkets was £32.25 from the excellent Jean-Luc Colombo in Morrisons, and that is only available by mail order. But fortunately for us, if you head a little further south to the Languedoc there is plenty of good value, quality French Viognier to admire and enjoy.
Viognier produces complex white wines with a full-bodied texture and a heady combination of apricots and peaches, with floral, perfumed notes. I often describe the taste as “awkward” (probably due the low levels of acid) but by the second glass I’ve usually got a smile on my face. The other thing to remember is that you won’t often find a Viognier with less than 13% alcohol.
So why not get yourself a bottle and tell us what you think? Post a review in the comments section and give your French Viognier experience a score out of 10. The #newwinethisweek league table is updated every week at the link below; where will Viognier fit in?
If you do want to taste the cream of the crop then here are a couple of Condrieu options to select from:
If your budget is around £10 then head a little further south: