Viognier, an aromatic white grape that makes full bodied, rich and fruity wines throughout the world has become very fashionable in the last decade or so. In its homeland, in the northern Rhone, it is responsible for the great white wines of the northern Rhone (Condrieu) but its fame has now spread further south to the Languedoc and to much of the New World. It is most appreciated for its very expressive aromas - apricot, honeysuckle, fruit blossom, musk and lily-of-the-valley, its creamy texture and its full body.
Almost extinct in the 1970s, it is one of the world’s most fashionable grapes and is planted from South Africa to California, from Argentina to New Zealand. Back in the Rhone Valley, it is often used to add fragrance and lightness to the great red Côte Rôties and for Côte du Rhone reds. It provides an excellent blending partner for the other two well-known Rhône white grapes – Marsanne and Roussanne. Low yielding and susceptible to disease, Viognier needs to be picked at exactly the right time. Picked too early it will lack aromatic expression; picked too late and it will lack acidity and have too high an alcohol level.