Celebrating Viognier – but how do you say it?!
International Viognier Day 2023 is being celebrated on 28 April! But is it a wine you know and love? Or is it a variety that you’re not particularly familiar with yet? Here we take a look at this delicious white variety that has been calling Australia home for decades, what flavours and aromas you can expect from Viognier and a quick guide on how to pronounce it!
How to pronounce Viognier
You’ll often hear Americans (and some Australians!) calling it “Vee-yoh-nay”. But actually, the final syllable is less broad and more French in style. So it’s more like “Vee-yoh-nyeh“.
History of Viognier
The history of the Viognier grape is a bit murky. It’s believed that the grape was brought to France by Greek settlers sometime in the 18th century and then spread throughout Europe.
However, these days Viognier is grown primarily in France (where it can be found on both sides of the Rhone Valley), Australia and California (in Napa Valley).
It’s believed that Viognier was introduced to Australia in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it gained popularity as a stand-alone variety. Today, Australia is one of the top producers of Viognier in the world, with regions like Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills leading the way.
The grape has a distinctive flavour profile that’s often compared to peach or apricot. It can also be described as floral with hints of honey and vanilla. Australian Viognier is particularly known for its fragrant and floral aromas, with notes of apricot, peach, and honeysuckle.
On the palate, it is typically luscious and medium-to-full bodied with flavours of stone fruit, honey, and a hint of spice. Australian Viognier is also generally known for its good level of acidity, which makes it an excellent wine for pairing with food.
Viognier Flavours and Aromas:
- Peach (and sometimes apricot)
- Floral notes like honeysuckle or jasmine
- Vanilla, butterscotch, honey
Viognier is known for its long growing season, which means growing Viognier in Australia can be a challenge due to our hot climate. But winemakers have found ways to adapt. Careful attention must be paid to the vineyard practices to ensure the grapes reach optimal ripeness. Australian winemakers often use techniques such as night harvesting and cool fermentation to preserve the grape’s delicate aromas and flavours.
Viognier Around the World
Viognier is a grape variety that has been cultivated in France since the 19th century. While it’s also grown in California and Australia, it’s most famous for its home country of France. In France, Viognier is known as “the queen of white grapes.” This name comes from its popularity among winemakers who produce high-quality wines with this grape variety.
Viognier and Food
Viognier pairs well with a variety of foods, including:
Spicy dishes: The fruity lusciousness of Viognier can help balance the heat and spice in dishes such as Thai curry, Indian tikka masala, or spicy Mexican cuisine.
Seafood: Viognier pairs well with seafood dishes like grilled shrimp, scallops, and lobster. It can also complement oily fish dishes such as salmon.
Creamy sauces: Viognier can cut through the richness of creamy sauces such as alfredo or carbonara, making it an excellent choice for creamy pasta dishes.
Poultry: Viognier is an excellent wine to pair with roasted or grilled chicken, turkey, or duck.
Cheese: Because of it’s fruity profile, and good acidity, reach for the Viognier next time you have a cheese platter! It’s a fabulous pairing with hard cheeses in particular.
Overall, Viognier is a versatile wine that can complement a variety of dishes. When pairing food with wine, it’s essential to consider the intensity and flavour of both the wine and the dish and aim for balance between the two.