Viognier Aromas and Characteristics

Viognier delivers on aromatics and texture, while being a fairly full-bodied wine that plays well with others.

Viognier has similar characteristics and flavors to those present in Chardonnay, however, the varietal has more natural aromas, including stone fruit (i.e. peach and apricot), pear, violet, honeysuckle and minerality. Working with such an aromatic grape means that barrel usage should only be done by a very skilled winemaker, as too much oxygen to the grape can destroy its natural aromatics.

Viognier can make higher alcohol wines with lower acidity. Compared to Chardonnay, viognier often has a little less acidity and body with more aromatics.

A finicky grape, Viognier wines are difficult to make as the grape has a very short window in which they can be harvested to maintain optimal aromatics. The grape requires a lot of sun and warmth which can make even slight climate changes a challenge in the vineyard…leading to unpredictable and inconsistent yields.

A finicky grape, Viognier wines are difficult to make as the grape has a very short window in which they can be harvested to maintain optimal aromatics.

A finicky grape, Viognier wines are difficult to make as the grape has a very short window in which they can be harvested to maintain optimal aromatics.

What Regions Produce The Best Viognier Wines?

In the Northern Rhone, Viognier is the only approved white grape in the Condrieu appellation. The grape is said to have originated from this area and so it can be argued this is the best area to get a true representation of what this grape can do. 

Northern Rhone Wine Regions. Photo Credit: Agne27 at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In the rest of the Northern Rhone, small amounts of Viognier are also blended with Syrah to add structure and aromatics.

The variety is now also widely grown in the Southern Rhône and Languedoc regions, as well as around the world. Viognier’s popularity is growing in Southern Australia thanks to producers like Yalumba.

The USA, Italy, South Africa and other wine-producing countries have also been successful in producing Viognier to a high standard.

Specifically in the United States, California viognier is produced in the northern Napa and Sonoma appellations. Wines from these cooler northern regions of California maintain aromatic roots like their Northern Rhone counterparts, but more tropical notes like lychee and pineapple is often detected.

Viognier Food Pairing

On the palate, Viognier should feel crisp and fresh with nice, balanced acidity. Due to its aromatics, this wine pairs well with spicy dishes like Thai food or a rich, oily fish like salmon.

The wine should be slightly chilled and served at around  52 degrees Farenheit. 

Due to its aromatics, this wine pairs well with spicy dishes like Thai food or a rich, oily fish like salmon.

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