Viognier is a variety originating from the Northern Rhone region of France where some of the most elegant, aromatic and seductive wines in the world are found. The Mediterranean climate and terroir of the Rhone region is similar to that of Middletown, CA in Lake County where the rocky soils and warm, dry growing conditions produce Viognier offering depth of flavor and complex aromatics.
Somewhat unique to Viognier, this grape requires a long warm growing season in order to fully develop the aromas and flavors typical of this variety. The vines (and crop) are moderate in size and take a full season to ripen. In the field, as the grapes mature, they develop a very distinctive flavor profile. Harvest decisions are based almost entirely on flavor development rather than sugar and acid levels.
The wines, when fermented in stainless steel, express fruit aromas of peach, apricot and mango. Viognier can also present strong floral aromas of honeysuckle, violets and jasmine similar to Muscat, but not as intense. Flavors follow the aromas very closely and in the R Vineyards Viognier, we often find white pepper as well.
Comparing this variety with other white wines, Viognier is rich and full bodied similar to Chardonnay. The flavors and aromas are more intense than Chardonnay, but less powerful and more delicate than Muscat.
Viognier’s natural acidity, perceived sweetness and spicy characteristics allows the finished wine to pair well with lobster, salmon, oysters, pork, chicken or veal. It is especially delightful with semi-spicy dishes like Thai or Indian cuisine. Viognier also pairs nicely with an array of hard and soft cheeses or simply enjoy it ‘by the glass’ with friends and family.
At my home, Viognier is our ‘house wine.’ The aromatic flavor profile never ceases to excite my palate.