One of the grape varieties that has stood out at tastings recently is viognier, which has spread its wings from its south of France homeland (it’s the only grape permitted in Condrieu) to pop up all over the world. It produces wines that are similar in weight to chardonnay but that have a marked peach and apricot character, and an opulent lushness – at least in the best examples – that makes it a very seductive drink indeed. It’s particularly good with roast chicken or guinea fowl with a creamy sauce, as well as with mildly spiced curries, tagines, Malay and other south-east Asian food. Oh, and with crab, but then so many white wines are.
It’s not the easiest grape to grow (or pronounce – it’s vee-yon-ee-ay), which tends to make producers who crack it a little evangelical about the grape. The most notable example is the Australian producer Yalumba, which makes no fewer than four. My favourite (apart from the top-ranking Virgilius, which is dear – -plus – and hard to find) is Yalumba’s Eden Valley Viognier 2010 ( at larger Waitrose, or online, slurp.co.uk; 13.5% abv), most of which is fermented and aged in French oak, and which has those exotic, musky, apricot notes in abundance. (Interestingly, it’s made with wild yeasts.)
Another great Aussie example is Tahbilk’s Viognier 2011, from Nagambie Lakes, Victoria ( The Wine Society) which, at 12.5% abv, is markedly lighter than most viogniers (producers tend to pick late to get the distinctive aromas), with the most delicious, white peach fruit. Or there’s the rich, scented Riverpoint Viognier 2010 ( Vintage Roots; 13.5% abv), from Millton Vineyards, a long-established organic and biodynamic producer in Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island; this has that extra-intense dimension that biodynamic wines seem to possess. One for balmy summer evenings.
For more affordable options, head for the Languedoc section of the shelves, where you’ll find viognier blended with other indigenous grapes. Try Sainsbury’s attractive Taste The Difference Languedoc White (currently on a two-for- deal in larger branches; 13.5% abv), in which it’s combined with grenache blanc, marsanne and vermentino, but definitely contributes to the richness of the final blend. It’s made by Jean-Claude Mas, who also makes the Elegant Frog Viognier 2011 IGP d’Oc ( in a more limited number of Sainsbury’s stores; 13.5% abv). A naff name, but another lovely wine that really expresses the character of this grape.
Photographs: Katherine Rose for the Guardian
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.