#newwinethisweek Week 17 – Viognier, France

This week’s #newwinethisweek selection is a bit of a Phoenix from the flames story; back in the mid 1980’s records showed there was only 32 hectares of Viognier planted in the entire world! These days it has become a bit of a dinner party favourite and is grown all over the planet.

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We are focussing on France this week… if it goes down well we’ll investigate other regions later on this year. The real heartland of Viognier is in the Northern Rhone, in the appellation of Condrieu, where most of the 32 hectares were planted back in 1985; today there are over 100 hectares planted on the steep, terraced slopes. These wines often show their best after 5 to 10 years in bottle and certainly don’t come cheap.

There is also a very interesting appellation just south of Condrieu called Chateau Grillet. The entire appellations is owned by a single producer and produces only 100% Viognier wines from a tiny 3.8 hectares of planted land, making it one of the smallest appellations in France.

The cheapest Condrieu I could find in the UK supermarkets was £32.25 from the excellent Jean-Luc Colombo in Morrisons, and that is only available by mail order. But fortunately for us, if you head a little further south to the Languedoc there is plenty of good value, quality French Viognier to admire and enjoy.

Image Viognier produces complex white wines with a full-bodied texture and a heady combination of apricots and peaches, with floral, perfumed notes. I often describe the taste as “awkward” (probably due the low levels of acid) but by the second glass I’ve usually got a smile on my face. The other thing to remember is that you won’t often find a Viognier with less than 13% alcohol.

 

So why not get yourself a bottle and tell us what you think? Post a review in the comments section and give your French Viognier experience a score out of 10. The #newwinethisweek league table is updated every week at the link below; where will Viognier fit in?

 

If you do want to taste the cream of the crop then here are a couple of Condrieu options to select from:

Delas Frères Condrieu Clos Boucher 2008 (The Wine Society £28.00)

Les Balcons du Rhone Condrieu 2011 (M&S £38.00)

 

If your budget is around £10 then head a little further south:

Domaine du Bosc Viognier 2012 (The Wine Society £7.25)

La Chasse Chardonnay Viognier 2013 (Tesco £5.99)

Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Côtes du Rhône 2012 (Waitrose £12.99)

Domain de Mandeville Viognier 2013 (M&S £7.49)

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on April 28, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Love Viognier and Condrieu in particular. Definitely expensive but worth it. It’s a great wine to pair with sushi !

  2. Reblogged this on Please Bring Me My Wine and commented:
    Cheers to Ant for kicking off Week 17!

  3. I’ve never tried Viognier before, sounds like the time has come! I’ve always loved the idea (like in the appellation Chateau Grillet) of making 100% wines out of this expressive varieties. I’ll be back here to share my Viognier-experience! 🙂

  4. By a fantastic stroke of luck, I had recently relocated a few bottles into the fridge from my cellar of a wine ideal for this week’s challenge.

    It’s a 2008 Le Grace de Condrieu from Laithwaites, which cost £27 in 2011. Laithwaites is the first online fine wine supplier I used when I started collecting 4 or 5 years ago and they remain one of the most customer friendly and efficient in my experience.

    Laithwaites utilise a great scheme whereby they purchase unfinished grape juice from a famous producer and then finish it themselves in their Le Chai au Quai cellar. Ex Haut-Brion vinifier Jean-Marc Sauboua is in charge, so the results are usually phenomenal. So long as they don’t reveal who the juice is from, the producer’s own brand wine’s value is not affected and we can buy virtually the same stuff for half the price! (I can heartily recommend the Le Grace Côte Rôtie also, made in the same circumstances for less than 30 quid a bottle)

    So in this case, the Viognier is finished in “the finest” French oak by Le Chai cellar, and the resulting depth of character is extraordinary. The nose is intensely perfumed and fragrant, reminiscent of cherry blossom petals and violets. There’s also the expected stone fruit characters of peach and apricot, which are synonymous with the Viognier grape.

    The oak ageing combined with the 4 years or so in bottle has culminated in an intriguing viscosity to the wine. It really fills your mouth up with its buttery texture, and brings to mind peach melba yoghurt. The acidity is virtually zero which is disappointing but no great surprise with this particular variety, especially at 6 years old. The length just goes on and on, I counted around 30 seconds, and the protracted floral essence needs washing out with water to disperse!

    It was red wine type food on the menu at Chez Stevens tonight, so I resisted trying to pair it with the main. It’s gone down rather well with a light pudding of strawberries and soft cheese though; the cheese complimenting the dairy characteristics of the wine well. If it was Friday night I’d be pairing it with a Thai takeaway, which I think would work masterfully!

    A well-deserved 9/10. Keep up the good work guys!

  1. Pingback: #newwinethisweek – Analysing 2014 and changes for 2015 | Confessions of a Wine Geek

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