Plantings of Viognier
Somewhat of a rarity and almost extinct by the mid 1960’s when there was only about 15 hectares in existence in the Northern Rhone of France, Viognier has been an illusive grape variety until the mid 1980’s when it showed an increasingly popular demand around the world with plantings in North & South America, Australasia, South Africa, and other parts of Europe outside of its most famous historic AOC of Condrieu and recent plantings in the South Of France. Well known UK wine writer Oz Clarke once referred to it as the potential new sexy variety to replace the fixated interest of Chardonnay in the 80’s.
Origins of Viognier
As much as the French have garnered all praise for the finest Viognier in the world produced in the tiny commune and AOC of Condrieu (300 ha), it’s perhaps little known and somewhat surprising that the origins of this wonderful and truly unique grape variety is Croatia, where it is know under the name of Vugava Bijela.
Prone to powdery mildew, Viognier is a somewhat capricious grape variety to grow with unpredictable yields. It has a thick skin and can be hellish to orchestrate at harvest time when ripening needs to be at an optimum in order to show its true flavour profile without causing the acidity to plummet, and the ph to rise.
Flavour profile of Viognier
Viognier can be one of the most powerfully aromatic and seductive of wines, typically showing aromas of peach, apricot, candied orange rind, orange blossom and jasmine. In the finest examples, one can experience a wave of extremely round and buttery fruit of great viscosity and silkiness that envelops the palate and leaves one astounded by the sheer unctuous properties of its character.