The profile of Viognier
Viognier is a white grape variety that produces wines with pronounced aromas of apricot and peach. Subtle notes of violet, iris and acacia are also known to round out its organoleptic profile. In a single-varietal wine or a blend with Marsanne or Roussane, Viognier has a reputation of being a multi-faceted grape.
Indeed, whites containing Viognier tend to be highly sought-after. For the most part grown in the northern region of the Rhône Valley (from Valence to Vienne), the grape is becoming a bigger and bigger hit across the pond in the United States, especially on the Californian westcoast.
Low production, high maintenance!
In the 1960s, Viognier was not yet very well-known, with vines barely covering 30 hectares. By 1986, Viognier had dwindled to just 20 hectares, most in the Condrieu appellation, and the grape – and its reputation – were on the brink of extinction. Thanks to a handful of winegrowing families, however, Viognier experienced a revival and the grape is now planted over 130 hectares.
As rare as it is appreciated, Viognier is a tough grape to grow. Our own winery has taken the deliberate step to harvest this particularly delicate variety at night, when the low temperatures provide cool cover and help seal the grapes’ freshness. “Naturally sensitive, Viognier is a variety that demands a precise level of care,” explains Jasper, Cellar Manager. “From the vine to the cellar, from harvesting to vinification, you have to know how to handle it so that its full personality can be released.”
With a low yield (20 to 30 hl/ha), Viognier is the iconic grape used to make that most famous of the northern whites: Condrieu. You also find it as part of a blend in whites from the southern Rhône Valley or as a single varietal in the wide selection of wines produced in the Pays d’Oc IGP.
Two Viogniers for two exclusive cuvées
In our Laurus ‘parcel selection’ collection, Condrieu comes from the area around the village of Malleval, in the northern Rhône Valley. Produced in tiny quantities (just 4,600 bottles), our Condrieu is a very elegant, racy and complex wine. “In its youth, this Condrieu delivers apricot, citrus and candied lemon aromas, in an intense, rich and seductive ensemble. Aged for several years, the spicy notes evolve all the while retaining a firm minerality and a great deal of elegance. A wine I highly recommend for special occasions” says Jasper.
Meanwhile, our Laurus Pays d’Oc IGP Viognier Laurus is made from parcels of vines planted in the department of Hérault, for an even more sun-soaked and aromatic flavour.
In the words of Jasper: “This is the full expression of Viognier in a bottle! Peach, apricot, sweet spices… It’s a wine best opened within three years to enjoy its aromatic freshness. Great as an aperitif, it is a fragrant wine with a harmonious palate balanced between freshness and acidity.”
Now you know all the essential information about this remarkable grape. If you are interested in honing your knowledge on the other grape varieties that our winery crafts with just as much passion, read our articles on Grenache and Syrah!