What is Viognier Wine?
Last Updated on April 3, 2023.
Viognier is a white wine grape variety known to produce full-bodied white wines of depth and profound flavor. It’s a unique grape variety in that it’s surprisingly aromatic and perfumy despite being a traditionally dry wine. The premier white wine grape of Northern Rhône, France, Viognier wines can be difficult to craft since there is only a brief window when they can be harvested to acquire to best aromas and flavors. If not allowed to ripen fully, the grapes can have low acidity. When overripe, their distinctive floral aromas disappear.
Viognier vines require sunny days over a long moderately warm growing season to attain optimal ripeness. Yields can also be relatively uneven and unpredictable.
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Viognier produces a full-bodied, aromatic wine that classically displays stone fruit notes like peach and apricot, with some tropical fruit notes in there as well. For this reason, Chardonnay lovers tend to also enjoy Viognier, particularly if they’re looking to move away from butter and toasty notes.
Viognier can also display distinctive stoniness in its core, with the heady floral aromas evident from the first sniff. There can also be more savory floral notes like petunia, zinnia, or geranium.
Because of its full-bodied structure and rich fruit-forward flavor, the best Viogniers traditionally pair well with heavier fish and shellfish. Teriyaki salmon and Parmigiano-Reggiano risotto are also ideal pairings.
Thai food, like General Tso’s chicken, works nicely being both a sweet and spicy dish. Crispy oyster bites basked in spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico bring out the fruit of Viognier well. Beyond seafood, four cheese pasta, risotto, teriyaki chicken, salmon, and grilled poultry all work beautifully.
Viognier prefers a warm climate, partially due to its thick skin that requires extra heat to fully ripen. It can be rather fickle and prone to mildew, and it requires careful attention during ripening to make sure sugar and acidity levels are adequately balanced. Viognier vines require sunny days over a long moderately warm growing season to attain optimal ripeness. Yields can also be relatively uneven and unpredictable.
Historically the main white grape of the Rhône Valley, Viogniers can also be found in California – particularly in the Central Coast where Rhône grapes thrive – Australia, Chile, and even in New York’s Finger Lakes region.
When harvested with higher acidity levels, Viognier can age well for years. Chateau Grillet, the only appellation that is also only one producer in France, produces some of the best Viogniers in the world and they are very age-worthy. Similarly, neighboring Condrieu produces age-worthy Viogniers. At lower price points, most Viogniers are meant to be drunk young.
- Château Grillet, Château Grillet, Rhône, France
- Domaine de la Janasse, ‘Principaut d’Orange,’ Rhône, France
- Stags’ Leap Winery, Napa Valley, France
- Cambria, Tepusquet Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, California
- Yaluma, ‘The Virgilius,’ Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia, Australia
- Pindar, North Fork of Long Island, New York
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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Tropical (Peach, Apricot, Apple)
Earth & Mineral Notes
Gravel, Limestone, Stone
Petunias, Zinnia, Geranium
Structure & Body
Viognier Wine Profile
Finish Fruit-Forward, Medium
Fatty Fish, Shellfish
Because of it's full-bodied structure and rich fruit forward flavor, the best Viognier's traditionally pair well with heavier fish and shellfish. Teriyaki Salmon and Parmigiano-Reggiano Risotto. Thai food, like General Tso's chicken, works nicely being both a sweet and spicy dish. Crispy oyster bites basked in spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico.