Viognier is a white aromatic grape which originates from the Rhone in France. It's a aromatic varietal which is sometimes added to Syrah in small quantities to give it perfume. Just some of the aromas you will get if you stick your nose in a glass of Viognier include roses, tangerine, stonefruits, honeysuckle and an array of spices.
Viognier is full bodied and usually aged in oak, so it's a good alternative for Chardonnay drinkers but it has a distinctive oiliness in the middle of the tongue, I know that sounds weird, but trust me, it's a good thing.
We don't see a lot of Viognier in NZ as it's not that easy a varietal to grow, it can be prone to mildew and needs long warm days for growth, hence why we mostly see it in warm Hawkes Bay.
For the most part Viognier is a early drinking wine and not intended for aging. Serve it cool but not too cold or you will deaden the multitude of amazing flavours that flood out of each glass of this gorgeous wine. Once chilled serve with grilled white meats or spicy foods.
As mentioned there aren't a huge amount of Viognier here at home in NZ but it's no surprise that all of my picks are from amazing Hawke's Bay, including this one from Saint Clair, which even though the family's home base winery is in Marlborough they have a vineyard site in the renowned Gimblett Graves region of Hawke's Bay. Their 2015 Viognier has lush flavours of peach, apricot and lavender with the slightest hint of cinnamon spice and available for $22.
The team at Elephant Hill in the Te Awanga region of Hawke's Bay have the most remarkable winery you could imagine; modern, stylish & state of the art with a solid commitment to sustainability (including a system that recycles winery waste water).
Their wines are pretty spectacular too. This 2016 Viognier is bone dry with a residual sugar of only 1.1 grams and once again has flavours of peach and nectarine and hints of spice and ginger. Their vintages regularly sell out so waste no time in picking up this beauty for $29
I love guys at Element so much & upon my last visit to Hawkes Bay they gave me such a warm welcome (& filled me with so much wine...), I genuinely now consider them friends. For such a tiny winery (2.2 hectares) they put so much love and passion into what they do and make some amazing wines. This 2015 Viognier smells of apricots and citrus blossom with a rich, full body. Delish! This wine is $25 a bottle but only available online, however the awesome Dom has, once again, provided a discount code for anyone who would like to purchase these wines can get a 20% discount for the next week by using the code "Mermaid" (well what else!) at www.elementwines.co.nz
To hear my chat about Viognier with Trudi Nelson on RadioLIVE click the link below.