One of my goals in writing this wine blog is to educate you on wine and related items. Part of that education process is to introduce you to different wines (typically out of your normal wine window) and try to entice you into trying them. Some are, or will be, popular varietals or blends, while others will be lesser known such as this week’s wine.
In today’s blog I am introducing you to a white wine I like and one many may not be familiar with: Viognier (Vee-own-yay). Viognier is a full-bodied wine that is thought to have originated in Croatia. As the Roman Empire moved across Europe it is believed they brought Viognier vines to Southern France in the northern Rhone region of Condrieu. From that early beginning the grape is now successfully grown in the Rhone area of France, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Greece, Austria, Australia and the United States. In the U.S. the grape is grown primarily in California and in the central coast areas.
Like a Chardonnay, Viognier has the potential to be a full-bodied wine. In fact, it is quite a bit like a Chardonnay. The quality of Viognier wines is very dependent on several items: vineyard viticulture practices and a long warm growing season that allows the grapes to fully ripen, yet not so warm that it allows the grapes reach higher sugar levels. Viognier vines don’t yield a lot of grapes, so it isn’t often economical for some vineyards to grow. Thus Viognier production isn’t as large as other wines.
Full-bodied white wines are known for their rich, bold flavors. Viognier is no exception. Typically, Viognier is oak aged to develop a nice creamy texture. Its primary aromas, depending on where the grapes are grown, will be flowery, and also offer smells of rose petals, peach, tangerine and honey suckle. On the palate the wines are typically dry and offer an oily sensation which is a characteristic of the grape. The drier Viogniers seem to be less fruity and at times are a little bitter. The wine has a soft start and often finishes with a bitter citrus and almond taste.
Viognier wines are very similar to Chardonnays in some respects but totally opposite in others. Both pair well with foods or are pleasant to just sip alone.
Viognier pairs well with some spicy foods and is especially good with spices such as saffron, ginger and paprika. It pairs well with root vegetables such as carrots, yams and turnips as well as foods that taste of apricots and oranges. It also pairs well with seafood such as poached lobster and shrimp, scallops and white fishes. Leaner white meats also fair well with Viognier.
Personally, I am a fan of Viogniers and have some in my own wine cellar. Actually I have two very distinctly different Viognier in my cellar: one an Old World Spanish 2012 Lagasca Viognier and the other a New World Napa Valley Hyde de Villaine 2014 Viognier. I feature both wines in today’s blog.
2012 Lagasca Viognier Vino De La Tierra De Castilla
In tasting the Lagasca I discovered one of the truths of having a large wine cellar. You often cannot drink your wines in the proper time window and they reach their peak before you open them. That is the case with the seven-year-old Lagasca Viognier.
I remember drinking this wine right after I purchased it. At that time the aromas jumped out of the glass and the palate was packed with fruit.
The color of the 2012 Lagasca was a darker yellow straw color. The fruit on the nose was softer than I remembered, although it came around after some time in my glass. But it was not as robust as it should have. The beginning of the taste (the attack) was mild. The mid palate was fruity but not clearly defined. The finish was soft with mild acidity and still had a nice mouth feel.
This wine had clearly exceeded its peak. Although still refreshing, it didn’t measure up to a newer vintage. This is a good lesson for all of us. We need to pay close attention to the age and anticipated drinkability of the wines in our collections.
2014 Hyde de Villaine La Guerra Viognier
This is a Viognier produced in Napa Valley from Carneros grapes. This wine hadn’t quite reached its peak, but it is getting close to it. That said, the wine did show well.
The color was a mild yellowish straw color. The nose was stubborn but opened after about 10 to 15 minutes in my glass. The aromas were fruity with pronounced peach and nutty notes. On the palate there were hints of fruit, honey and cedar. The finish was mildly acidic with a mild balance and chewiness.
It’s a fact that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most popular white wines. I feel that Viognier comes in at third or fourth place. I would highly recommend that you try Viognier. However, pay close attention to the vintage: don’t purchase any older than three years.
Next LEX 530 Wine Dinner
Our next wine club dinner is planned for Wednesday, May 29, 2019, and will have a Spring theme. We are pairing our Glenwood Cellars and Tiedemann wines with the various courses. Tickets are $100 each and the 5-course meal will be delightful. Click here to look at the menu and pairings, and here to buy your tickets to this exciting event.
June LEX 530 Wine Dinner
We are changing locations for our June wine dinner to be with our wine club partner: Uptown Kitchen in Granger, Ind. The event will be held on Friday, June 21, 2019. The theme is Steak and Oysters. Stay tuned for more information on this dinner soon.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- May 23 – International Chardonnay Day
- May 25 – National Wine Day
- June 8 – National Rosé Wine Day
- June 21 – Lambrusco Day
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day