Viognier is known for having aromas and flavors of ripe stone fruit, like peaches and apricots, and that end with notes of delicate white blossoms. It’s also known for not having high acidity, so the word “zippy” is not usually used to describe wines made from this grape.
Just over two years ago, we shared a post about the origins and history of Viognier in our blog entitled Viognier (“Vee-Own-Yay”). In this week’s blog, we revisit the grape—this time from the perspective of flavors, textures, and food pairings.
“Unctuous” is an appropriate descriptor for Viognier, because it has a bit of an oily texture on your palate. When thinking about the feel of a wine in your mouth, using milk descriptors can help you articulate what you are feeling when you draw the wine into your mouth. Is it a light wine that feels like the weight or texture of skim milk, or could it be a medium-textured or bodied wine, that feels more like a 2% milk? A full-bodied wine’s weight might feel like a whole milk, and a heavy dessert wine might mimic the weight of half-and-half or whipping cream.
Wherever your palate places it on the milk scale, Viognier—along with its other white grape pals from the Rhone Valley Marsanne and Roussanne—have that unctuousness and weighty texture that make them great as food wines.
This weekend at City Vino, August 6 and 7, we will be featuring 4 wines made from 100 percent Viognier. The four wines come from around the globe, showing how the grape shines in different terroirs. The wines are from Argentina, Virginia, Washington State, and France.
The first wine in our all-Viognier line-up is the 2020 Las Perdices Viognier, from the Mendoza region of Argentina. The grapes in this wine are grown in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, which helps to accentuate the common traits of Viognier, like peaches, apricots and white flowers. This particular wine, due to is level of fruitiness, would be a great pairing for spicy dishes, fish dishes, and sushi.
Next up is the 2017 True Heritage Viognier, from Castalia Farm in Monticello, Virginia. The brother-sister team of George Hodson and Emily Pelton,of Veritas Vineyards, have planted 48.5 acres of vines on land that has been home to farmers since 1747. For this project, their focus is to produce wines that pair with and honor the heritage of Southern cuisine. As such, the suggested pairings for this Viognier include classic shrimp and grits, chicken and biscuits, seafood gumbo, and let us not forget collard greens.
Our third Viognier hails from the Yakima Valley, in Washington State and is the 2019 Airfield Estates Viognier. The winery pays tribute to aviation in their name, due to the fact that a portion of the fourth-generation family property was used in World War II to train Army Air Corp pilots. This wine shows deep complexity, perhaps because some of the wine was aged in stainless steel and some in French oak barrels. This is wine that was aged on the lees (with the spent yeast cells), to add additional texture and complexity to the wine. Airfield Estates Viognier may exhibit aromas of ripe pear, honeysuckle, and peaches. On the palate, flavors of ripe stone fruit, spice, and marzipan. Due to the oak aging of some of this wine, pair it with a buttery or creamy sauce. Chicken Kiev was recommended by the winery as a pairing. It would also pair beautifully with a dish with an alfredo sauce, or something as simplistic as a roasted pork loin. Fattiness in a dish will help balance the oiliness of the grape and the oak from the aging.
The final Viognier is from France, and is the 2019 Le Paradou Viognier, which is from Château Pesquié, in Ventoux. The name “Paradou” is derived from “paradise,” and “watermill,” in the Languedoc dialect. This Viognier is medium-bodied and dry, with aromatics featuring yellow fruit, lilies, and irises. On the palate, the yellow fruit, like peaches, prevail with nice acidity and hints of almond and peach pit. This is a wine to pair with international cuisine like Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese. It would also work well with roasted chicken, white fish, and shellfish.
Enjoy our world trip with Viogniers this week. Hope to see you soon!