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Introducing Viognier

While the Viognier grape may be new to most wine drinkers, it’s been grown in France’s northern Rhône region for centuries.  Because its acreage in France is relatively small, so is the French production of Viognier.  Interestingly enough, decent Viognier vineyards have appeared in California since the late 1980s, and Australia is also producing the grape.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California.

Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California (Image from Wikipedia)

It’s tough to grow Viognier, since the grapes are sensitive to variable climates.  The vine often requires additional attention and massive pruning, plus it ripens at an odd time.  Though Viognier wine has a high alcohol content (usually more than 14%), it contains luscious flavors of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, hints of vanilla, oak, honey, and additional citrus fruits.  It pairs very nicely with sushi, salmon, shrimp and oysters, as well as duck, chicken, and pork.  It makes a nice accompaniment to cornbread, too, and even butternut squash.  Dishes that are lightly smoked, and recipes that include either apricots or peaches make great candidates for pairing.  Though difficult to grow, rare, and often on the pricier side, it’s definitely worth giving a bottle of Viognier a try.

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