Voluptuous viognier – perfect sipping for warm summer evenings

27 May

When spring starts to segue into summer, a different style of wine is called for – one with a bit of fragrance that seems to mark the change of seasons and with enough personality to work as an aperitif as well as with food.

Viognier, which fits the bill to a T, was once a secret for connoisseurs.  The grape variety was brought to the Rhone Valley by the Romans, and the tiny appellation known as Condrieu, made of 100 per cent viognier, has long been prized for its perfumed nose and elegance.  Until relatively recently, viognier was left to the French, and to the Rhone rangers in particular.    Then wine-makers all over the world started experimenting with the fragrant grape, and there has been an explosion of viognier in the past 10 years.

Not all of it is good – this is a difficult grape to grow, which can produce “oily” or overpoweringly perfumed wines when badly made.    But in skilled hands, the results can be stunning, and great value for wine of this quality.

Unsurprisingly, one of the best viogniers comes from the very borders of Condrieu territory.  Pierre Gaillard’s Les Gendrines is a gorgeous drop from Berry Brothers & Rudd with all the Rhone Valley elegance you would hope for- and at less than £15 a bottle when you buy a case of six.      Equally fine value is a divine Israeli viognier from Dalton at around the same price. It has notes of peaches, honey and sunshine without being in any way overblown

Yet both these premium wines have serious competition from a couple of contenders able to produce good viognier at almost unbelievable prices.   For around  £7 a bottle you can pick up Domaine de Mandeville viognier Pays d’Oc from Marks and Spencer or Trivento viognier made in the Tupungato region of Argentina from Waitrose.       The former is richer and more serious, the latter quite deliciously playful, with a lovely hint of lemon.

Both work beautifully with salmon or other fish in a buttery sauce, and the Trivento is lovely to drink on its own.    Watch out for promotions on the Trivento in Waitrose – the current offer of £5.59 is about to expire, but there’s every chance it will  be back before summer’s out.


One Response to “Voluptuous viognier – perfect sipping for warm summer evenings”

  1. arrancat May 28, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    Reblogged this on Arrancat's Blog and commented:
    What I’d give for a cool glass of viognier right now, wish they sold it here in Georgia.

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