Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Until last summer I hadn't heard of a white wine called Viognier. Now it is something I am constantly rummaging through wine stores to find. Living in France is a wonderful way to really grasp the complexities of French wines. While wines from around the world are so accessible, Wine 101 for Americans generally starts with the varietals coming out of California or Washington. Varietals are easy to grasp which is why, for me, the blended nature of French wines was a bit confusing. We will get into French blends sometime in the near future, but today I am going to talk about a French varietal called Viognier which is not all that easy to find, especially for a good price.

Viognier grapes historically have been unique to the Rhone region of France. In recent years, vintners in California, Washington, New York, Colorado, Australia and Brazil have planted Viognier vines in an attempt to bring more of this delicious wine to market. From what I have learned, the reason why the Viognier grape has not had the kind of explosive expansion of say a chardonnay grape, is because it is a difficult vine to grow. While it handles dry growing conditions quite well, it is apparently very susceptible to mold growth. It also has to be harvested at a very particular time to ensure the grape has developed the bold flavors associated with this particular wine. This grape has a tendency to be high in sugar and low in acid which, if harvested at the wrong time, can result in a bland flavor and high alcohol content wine.

All of that becomes clear once you taste a Viognier and realize the unique flavors and aromas bring such character to this wine. In my opinion it has more character and flavor than any other white wine I have ever experienced. It is incredibly fruity but is dry and soft at the same time. Some will compare it to the flavors of a Gewürztraminer but with the dryness and soft mouthfeel of a chardonnay.

Name: Viognier
Year: 2008
Vintner: Pesquié
Grape: 100% Viognier
Estate Bottled:Yes
Country of Origin: Rhone, France

Price: $18.00

 P & P Tasting Notes:
 This is a full-bodied fruity white wine. It has more fruit in the aroma than citrus but nevertheless, both are distinctly found in this viognier. The wine has the soft roundness of a chardonnay and none of the crispy bite of a sauvignon blanc. It also has the deep golden color of a chardonnay. Please seek one out to try!

Now it's your turn! 
Post your favorite grape du jour and link to me!