Viognier is a remarkably difficult grape to grow. It is prone to mildew, produces notoriously low and unpredictable yields, and needs to be picked when fully ripe. If it is picked too early it fails to develop its classic aromas and rich tastes. But despite, or perhaps because of, this precariousness it has the most amazing clear, golden colour and the aroma of flowers and fruits at their freshest. Many talk of being surprised by the taste; the colour and nose hinting at something sweeter but the actually taste being dry with a variety of nuances both on the tongue and afterwards.
In appreciating the surprising dryness of this wine don't miss out on the few bottles of late harvested, dessert wines that escape from places like Condrieu.
The significant differences in taste between the Condrieu/Château-Grillet wines and those of the rest of France and the World have been put down to a number of factors. Two of the most prevalent are the soil and the strain of vine. The soils of the Northern Rhône have a light sandy topsoil over granite while many of the other growing areas are more loamy to clay-like. There is also some suggestion that a mutant strain of the vine has appeared recently which now characterises most recent plantings and which results in grapes producing wine with less concentration.
The vines producing the best wines are over 20 years old (the Northern Rhône have vines of 70 years or older). The majority of the plantings outside the Northern Rhône mean that most are less than 10 years old which mean their potential has yet to be realised.
Although low-acidity Viogniers do not require the heavy oaking to provide balance, some sensitive use of oak barrels can enhance the overall flavour.
Oz Clarke describes this as a 'swooning wine ….. wine that just oozed sex and sensuality.' .... click here for more