Outstanding Viognier-based wines now come from just about every continent and many countries, including Australia, USA (Washington, California and Virginia are big producers), Argentina, South Africa, Canada and even Japan. “Experts” will tell you that the best ones come from France’s Condrieu region, and here in the US, good wines with that appellation can fetch $60-80 and even $100, but you can get decent $8 bottles from Chile.
Viognier is an outstanding blending grape, too, mixed with larger proportions of Chenin Blanc and other softer varieties. Interestingly, in Australia Viognier is also added as a blending grape to red wines, especially Shiraz – called Syrah in Australia – while in France it’s added to Syrah in several wines from Cote-Rotie, which mean “roasted slope.” In its classic Rhone form it’s often mixed with a few percent of Marsanne or Roussanne. And in South Africa, Viognier is added to Syrah and Mourvedre. So you see how versatile this grape is!
Food Pairings: I find Viognier a great wine to pair with spicy Indian or Thai food. It’s also great with white cheeses such as Gouda, especially goat’s milk Gouda, and Brie or Camembert. Viognier goes great with grilled seafood, too, especially shrimp and scallops.
In the US, try Viogniers from Bonterra, Castle or Miner. From France, try E. Guigal, Chapoutier or Guy Bernard. From Chile try Cono Sur (forgive the pun). And from downunder, try Yalumba, Oxford Landing or Barwick Estates. Or as an alternative, Heartland Viognier-Pinot Gris.
Enjoy the wine and a prosperous 2010.