The Ultimate Guide to Viognier – 5 Facts Worth Knowing

A few weeks ago our 2019 Mademoiselle V Viognier won a gold medal and the Trophy for the Best French Variety at the Australian Alternative Variety Wine Show. By definition, an alternative grape variety basically means that it is not a mainstream, widely planted variety, and it is not well known.

As we have found out, being an alternative variety also makes it a wine which is more challenging to sell to wine consumers, who are uncertain about what the variety is, how to say it’s name, and what the wine should taste like. 

We planted the variety here at Whicher Ridge in 2005, and since then we have made 6 vintages of  Mademoiselle V in 2009, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021. We have found it a difficult variety to grow, as well as being a little tricky to make it into a well balanced, flavoursome wine.

So to assist with spreading the love and passion for this versatile grape variety, we have compiled a list of 5 essential facts about Viognier.

How do You Pronounce Viognier?

Vee-on-ee-yay. Handy hint, basically ignore the letter ‘g’, which will make pronouncing it so much easier!

Where is Viognier From?

Viognier originates from Southern France, in the Northern Rhone region of Condrieu. It was once widely planted in the region, but it’s not the easiest grape to grow, and by the mid-20th century it had fallen out of favour to such an extent that only 14 hectares remained in Condrieu. Thanks to a revival of interest in Rhône wines in the 1980s and early 90s, growers around the world started planting more viognier, including Australia, California, New Zealand and Japan.

What Does Viognier Taste Like?

Viognier, when produced well, is a wonderfully aromatic, perfumed and complex flavoured wine. Everything about this grape variety is extraordinary and exotic! It is a white grape variety which is full flavoured, with intoxicating scents of ripe apricots, musk, cumquats, sun ripened pears, ginger and turkish delight. As it has a much lower acidity level compared to other white varieties, producing a wine which is texturally soft and creamy mouthfeel, a little reminiscent of nougat to me! Without doubt, we think that this is one of the most versatile food pairing wines that we make.

If you like Chardonnay, you’ll like the weight of Viognier and notice it’s often a little softer on acidity, and also more perfumed and aromatic.

Is Viognier Wine Dry or sweet?

The flavours suggest a sweet wine, but Viognier wines are predominantly dry in style, however, there are a few sweet dessert styles made too, most notably from Australia and the Condrieu region in France

What Food Pairs Well with Viognier?

Viognier is generally a highly perfumed and aromatic wine with an oily, velvety texture due to it’s lower acidity level. For us, it is one of the most versatile food pairing wines that we make, in fact it shines when well matched with various dishes.

Top of our list would be mild creamy curries like kormas or spicy south-east Asian curries, and noodle dishes like Pad Thai. Spicy dishes with a hint of peach or apricot echoing the flavours in the wine work well, such as chicken or lamb tagines with apricot. Dishes with ginger, saffron and coconut, and sweet root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes and spicy butternut squash.

One of my favourite recipes  is roast pork, with coriander and fennel seeds.