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Viognier wine: variety is the spice of life

Fri 13 Aug 2010 12:08

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If you love white wine but are bored with the usual offerings, then you might want to take a closer look at Viognier.

The grape that makes this wine has its roots in the Rhone Valley in France, but in recent years has become popular all over the world.

Viognier has a similar character to Chardonnay, in terms of its texture and basic flavours, but it adds an aromatic top note that is always reminiscent of peaches and apricots, with a fresh pear fruitiness on the palate.

This particular wine variety has really taken off in California, Chile, and particularly in Australia. The Rhone Valley and southern France both continue to make plenty of Viognier too.

Normally a dry wine with little or no oak barrel influence, sweet dessert Viogniers and even some sparking versions also exist.

If you’d like to try out this wine variety, but don’t know quite where to start, wine connoisseur Tom Cannavan has selected three of his favourites to get you started.

1. La Chasse, Chardonnay-Viognier 2009, priced at £6.49, Co-op from Asda and Waitrose
This Vin de Pays d'Oc wine from the Languedoc in southern France is a 50/50 blend, with a nose that is full of cool, peachy fruit and pear aromas with a little oatmeal richness.

There is no oak here, meaning the wine is all about the fruity brightness that has tropical nuances of mango and pineapple on the palate.

With tasting cues of  peaches and mangoes, this wine goes really nicely with most chicken or fish dishes.

2. Tesco Finest Rose Wall Viognier 2009, priced at £7.49 from Tesco
Viognier wizzardess Louisa Rose makes this fine, aromatic, leafy and floral example that shows a welcome restraint for this sometimes too full-on variety.

Classy, pitch-perfect fruit plays against hints of opulence in a delicious wine.With fresh flavours of green herbs and apricots, this wine matches up brilliantly with lobster or scallops served with buttery sauces.

3. DOMA Viognier 2009, Chile, priced at £8.99 from Marks & Spencer
This is the most perfumed and intense of the three examples, offering a heady melange of powdered ginger, flowers and the downy skins of ripe peaches.

There is a massive burst of flavour, with apricot and tangy orange flooding across the palate. This particular offering comes from a single vineyard in the hot Rapel Valley, and a winemaker with a passion for Viognier.

This wine, which has tastes of apricots, powdered ginger and oranges, matches up very well with Chinese or Thai food, creamy risottos or pastas.

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