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Updated: Aug 23, 2021

I love aromatic white wines.

Viognier is one of my favorites. I first learned of the grape as the varietal used in the production of wines from Condrieu in the northern Rhone Valley of France. White wine from Condrieu tend to be a bit expensive, but are truly a treat to try. They are medium to full bodied with spectacular aromas of peach, white pepper, orange blossom, mango, or other tropical fruits. They are fermented to dry, but the aromas lead your nose to think they might drink sweet. Generally, not. Rhone Valley wines have gained popularity in the new world because they use grapes that can thrive in many areas, and Rhone wines are moderately priced compared to their Bordeaux and Burgundy top houses.

Viognier is sometimes used as a blending agent, frequently in Australia, it will be blended in small amounts into the Shiraz. Usually in a small (7%-12%) ratios, and so Viognier vines have piggybacked around the globe to grow near the Syrah/Shiraz. Producers who use Viognier likely learned of the grape from the Rhone Valley and may model their style as an homage. Viognier is full bodied and weighty in hot climates, almost sticky. In the United States the Paso Robles area puts out huge viognier, lots of fruit, and lots of weight. It is not necessary to oak age Viognier, especially in warm climates because it already has great body and aroma. Some winemaker choose to do it anyway, so check out the label, look for the newer vintage, or look out for a tan color through a clear bottle, if like me, you prefer unoaked aromatic whites. My classes are a great way to try Viognier from 3 different regions.

A really cool thing occurs when Viognier is aged in bottle. It's aromatics seem to get twisted up a little, and the wine frequently gets a golden color. It is also common to find little crystals of sugar in an aged Viognier, in my experience. These are harmless and a sign of quality in the original production, but can be a bit off putting if you were not aware of the traits. I, of course, would be happy to create a class around Viognier from 3 climates, 3 vintages, or 3 oak manipulation levels for you, just reach out.

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