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Wine Grape Varietals 101

Viognier

What is Viognier

Pronunciation: VEE-oh-nyay

Viognier is a white-wine grape variety traditionally grown in the Rhône Valley of France that makes full-bodied, aromatic, floral and fruity wines. Sometimes blended with other white Rhône varieties, Viognier is popular not only in France but around the world.

Viognier grapes are used primarily for dry white wines, and sometimes for sweet, late-harvest styles.

Viognier grapes are yellow to deep gold at harvest time. Viognier grapes can develop enough sugar content in warm regions to make wines with alcohol content in the 14% range and relatively low acidity.

Viognier vines are often low yielding and take a lot of attention from vineyard managers. This is primarily due to their susceptibility to powdery mildew, which spreads particularly in humid weather and can ruin the grapes for winemaking.

Viognier wines are usually single-varietals, but the category of white Rhône-style blends outside of the Rhône Valley uses Viognier together with Marsanne, Roussanne and other white types originating in the Rhône. Blends of Chardonnay and Viognier have been popular in Australia and California from time to time.

Viognier Regions

The appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet in the northern Rhône Valley are presumed to be the original source of Viognier. These districts limit their vineyards to growing only Viognier. Production there was quite small through the 1970s and Viognier was little known elsewhere in the world until the 1980s.

Today, France has sizeable plantings in the Languedoc region and in Argentina, Chile, California, Australia and New Zealand.

Viognier Tasting Notes

Wines made from Viognier vary significantly in aromas and flavors depending on the ripeness of the grapes at harvest time. When the right balance is achieved, Viognier offers vivid floral aromas like honeysuckle or citrus blossoms and ripe and fruity flavors of peaches, pineapples and honey. Viognier wine is more subtle than Gewürztraminer but shares the floral expression and tendency to be rich in texture.

Viognier Synonyms

Other names for Viognier include Barbin, Bergeron, Rebolot, Galopine, Greffou, Picotin Blanc, Vionnier, Petiti Vionnier and Viogne.

Viognier grapes are found in sparkling, white, and dessert wines.

Structural Characteristics

Acid
Low Medium High
Alcohol levels
Low Medium High
Body
Low Medium High
Tannin Structure
Low Medium High

Examples of Viognier to Try

Handling Tips

serve
45-55°F / 7-13°C
cellar
0-2 years

Fun Facts

  • Winemakers in the Rhône Valley and elsewhere often blend a small percentage of Viognier into their red Syrah wines. Fermenting the two grape varieties together helps the Syrah set a deep red color, counter-intuitively, and adds light floral notes.
  • Virginia was one of the first North American wine regions to emphasize Viognier.
  • Viognier smells sweet to many people but is mostly made as a dry wine with no residual sugar.