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Monday, November 03, 2008

Viognier

Origin: France
Other Names: Picotin Blanc, Vionnier, Petiti Vionnier, Viogne, Galopine, Vugava bijela

The origin of this white grape variety is unknown but many believe it to be of Roman descent and perhaps was brought to the Rhone valley in France via the Rhone river en route to Beaujolais. In 2004 the grape was studied at the University of California Davis where DNA profiling found the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin to Nebbiolo. 

Viognier is a difficult grape to grow and is prone to various vine diseases in particular powdery mildew. It has low and unpredictable yields and should be picked only when fully ripe. When picked too early, the grape fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes. When picked too late, the grape produces wine that is oily and lacks perfume. When fully ripe the grapes have a deep yellow color and produce wine with a strong perfume and high in alcohol.

In France, Viognier is the single permitted grape variety in the appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet. It is also often blended with Syrah in Northern Rhone in the Côte-Rôtie AOC. Since Viognier ripens earlier than Syrah, the grape is normally harvested separately and added to the Syrah during fermentation. One of the benefits of adding Viognier is the process of co-pigmentation that is produced which stabilizes the coloring of the red wine.

Viognier wines are well-known for their floral aromas, due to terpenes, which are also found in Muscat and Riesling wines. Viognier more than three years old tends to lose many of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Aging these wines will often yield a very crisp drinking wine which is almost completely flat in the nose. Viognier is a grape with low acid and is often blended with grapes such as Syrah in order to soften the wines.
 
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