Viognier is full-bodied and fruity with flavours of stone fruit, honey and spice.
Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-nee-aye) is a white wine with presence. While it is classed as a medium-bodied wine, compared to other whites it has a far fuller mouth feel, similar to that of a chardonnay. This is partly due to the alcohol content, as viognier is one of the punchiest whites available – usually 13% ABV or above. When you hover your nose over the glass you’ll pick up a bouquet of floral aromas like rose and exotic perfume, but as it hits the lips you’ll be struck by the fruitiness. Tangerine is the leading lady, supported by a cast of sweet stone fruits like apricot, peach and mango. You might also pick up notes of honeysuckle, ginger and almond at the finish.
Viognier is known to be fairly flexible as a tablemate. It goes perfectly with your standard white wine fare of cheese, sweet vegetables and pretty much any Mediterranean dish. But it does its best work beside seafood and spicy Asian dishes, particularly things like Pad Thai and Nasi Goreng. This is also one of the few whites that doesn’t disgrace itself when placed next to red meat, so if you’re a white wine drinker with a hankering for a steak, this might be the drop for you.
Ideally in a glass, but you can make do with the bottle in emergency situations. Like any white wine viognier is best served chilled, but such is its depth of character that you shouldn’t serve it too cold – you risk missing out on the full spectrum of flavours and aromas as your palate won’t register them at lower temperatures. 11-12C is ideal. And there’s no need to aerate viognier; like all whites, the lack of tannin makes the oxygenation process rather pointless.
As the world’s largest producer of viognier (an unashamedly French word if ever there’s been one), France is home to most of the world’s famous viognier labels. The Condrieu region is viognier ground zero, with labels like Guigal, Rene Rostaing, Georges Vernay, Chapoutier, Michel Ogier, and Nicolas Perrin doing some fantastic work, particularly with aged and oaked drops. But why go all the way to France when we’ve got standout viognier right here? Australia is the world’s second-largest viognier producer, and the leader of the local pack is Yalumba, who pioneered local production through the 1980s. The Virgilius is Yalumba’s flagship and gives you an idea of exactly how intense, complex and rewarding viognier can be. Clonakilla, Tahbilk and Giant Steps also produce examples that more than hold their own against the best of France.