Home > Viognier, wine blogging wednesday > One Viognier, Two Viognier

One Viognier, Two Viognier

Viognier. A white grape, with more than 2000 years of history, and nearly extinct by 1965 with only 8 acres of plantings left in Northern Rhone  – for the full history of the grape you can refer to this article in Wikipedia.

By the way, can you pronounce that “Viognier”? I’m not trying to insult the intelligence of my readers, but this french word is anything but easy. If you need a little help, here is a very short video for you:

If you wonder why are we all of a sudden talking specifically about Viognier (after all, there are other 9,999 grapes supposedly growing in the world), the reason is simple. Yesterday was Wine Blogging Wednesday event number 78, hosted by Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like blog, and the event was dedicated to Viognier, which sprung back to life and now successfully grows pretty much all over the world.

Viognier is no stranger on this blog. Two years ago, I was able to taste Virginia Viognier at Chrysalis Vineyards – it was very good. Then I had probably my best Viognier experience ever at the Lavinia wine store in Geneva – there I tried 2009 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu, a classic Viognier from Norther Rhone (it was outstanding with Drinkability rating of 9).

For this WBW78 tasting I had a few prerequisites. For one, I would love to taste Virginia Viognier – but it is not available in Stamford, CT. For the second one, I knew that I don’t want to taste California Viognier. Why? First, about two month ago, I had bad experience at a number of wineries in Temecula Valley in California. Second, there some some advantages in writing this blog post somewhat late – you can refer to the work of others. Please read the description of Rosenblum 2008 Kathy’s Cuvee in the blog post by the fellow blogger Gwendolyn Alley, especially the last part: “…finishes tart and savory yet cloying”. No further comments.

I definitely wanted to have classic Condrieu Viognier – but that is typically not a cheap option. Thanks to the advice of Zak from Cost Less Wines, I ended up with two bottles of Viognier – one from France, and another one from Australia.

My Viognier #1 was 2011 Les Vines de Vienne Viognier ($19.99, 13% ABV). Interestingly enough, this wine was made in the region surrounding the town of Vienne in Northern Rhone region of France – one of the legends has it that this town (Vienne) gave the name to the grape itself (Viognier). Another interesting fact is that Les Vines de Vienne wines are product of obsession of the three wine makers – read more about it here.

I didn’t plan any dinner or an event around this Viognier tasting, so I decided to pair it with a few random things I could grab from the fridge. But before we will talk about pairing, let’s talk about the wine itself. Here are the tasting notes “in progress”. Nice golden color, beautiful nose of green apple and orange zest. There is clean residual sweetness on the nose. One the palate – touch of sweetness, lemon tartness, golden delicious apple, perfect acidity. As wine opens up, sweetness disappears and acidity kicks in. Perfectly refreshing and balanced, very clean. Drinkability: 8+. Taking into account the results of tasting on the second day, I want to note that it is important not to over-chill this wine. Taken directly from the fridge on the second day, the wine had slightly unpleasant sharpness, a bite, which disappeared as soon as the wine warmed up a bit.

As I said, the food pairings were rather a game than anything thought through and planned. I tried this wine with slow roasted Jalapeno ( our local Fairway had selection of large size Jalapenos, which were a killer after being slow roasted on a grill) – the wine was not enough to remove the heat of Jalapeno (fire hose was more appropriate for that). Wine worked very well with French goat cheese called Crottin de Champcol. It perfectly complemented grilled yellow squash and worked nicely with grilled asparagus.

Viognier #2 was 2011 Yalumba Viognier South Australia ($11.99, 13.5% ABV). A touch darker in color than the #1, less bright. Nose of pear, herbs, white peaches and mango, more exuberant than the wine #1, but not to the point of being overwhelming. On the palate, there was more fruit than in the wine #1, but it was predominantly white grapefruit. While the wine was showing round enough, there was not enough acidity.  Drinkability: 7.

None of the previous food pairings worked well. With Jalapeno, the wine was showing very acidic. It was too fruity against goat cheese, and didn’t do anything to asparagus, and grilled squash was the only okay pairing for this wine. Still, I think this is quite reasonable wine for the money.

This concludes my report about Viognier experience. I would highly recommend the Les Vins de Vienne Viognier – the wine is definitely worth seeking, especially considering that anything comparable and coming directly from Condrieu will cost you three times more.

So, how about you? Did you have Viognier yesterday? I hope you did, and if you did not… what are you waiting for? You should be on the way to the store now. Cheers!



  1. June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Anatoli — Excellent and thoughtful post on Viognier for WBW78. Thank you for participating. Yalumba was a popular choice this month as a couple others also tasted this particular Viognier. I am working on the recap post and hope to have completed this weekend. Cheers! Frank

    • talkavino
      June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Hi Frank, wow – I think this was a quickest comment I ever saw 🙂 Thanks for hosting! It was fun! Cheers!

  2. PSsquared
    June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Since I don’t drink white wine, the part that caught my attention was ‘a bad experience in Temecula.’ I’m heading there for my birthday in several weeks! What happened? What do I need to know?

    • talkavino
      June 22, 2012 at 7:03 am

      As you are not drinking white wines, you are safe 🙂 The comment was specifically related to Viognier which I tried at few wineries in Temecula, and none of them were of the style which I like (meaning – not cloyingly sweet/unbalanced).
      If I can recommend something for you – my favorite places are Mount Palomar (all wines are excellent and reasonably priced, and their Port is to die for), and Hart – very small winery with again pretty much all wines being very good. Enjoy! Cheers!

      • PSsquared
        June 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

        I’ve been to Hart before, but not Mount Palomar. I will add it to my list. We also like Miramonte, but mostly because of the giant dog that hangs out in their tasting room. : ) Thanks for the info!

  3. June 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I missed this tasting on Wednesday, but hope to get to it this weekend. Great write-up as always. Where did you get the Vins de Vienne?

    • talkavino
      June 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks! I got that wine at my local wine store in Stamford, CT – Cost Less Wines and Liquors.

  4. George
    July 23, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I have had some experience with the local Viognier (Victoria, Australia) and I have only appreciation for the 2008-2010 vintages in Macedon area. Small, but dedicated boutique wineries. Also, a blend of Viognier with Marsanne is magnificent, but not quite the younger one…
    The best however, is hiding in several wineries reserve in Mornington. Most of the people I know of, consider the Mornington Viognier the rich cousing of Yalumba wine and superior even to the Condrieu varieties. I am lucky to fly home in Melbourne soon, where I have waiting for me two bottles of Condrieu 2008, for benchmark reference of the ‘ideal’ Viognier. I’ll report back on my experience soon.

    • talkavino
      July 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      George, thanks for the comment! I would gladly try a Viognier from Mornington, but it doesn’t look like they are available in US, so I will be looking forward to your tasting notes.


  1. June 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm
  2. October 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

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