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French Viogniers for 'Under a Fiver'

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With over 35 wines on our records selling in the UK at under £5 we felt we had to have a comparative tasting of some of them. We were modest in our capacity and took five - Le Midi, Virginie, Falcon Ridge, Montine, and Bellefontaine, which represented wines that are readily available from different high street outlets.

The details for each one you can find in the individual tasting notes. We feel that our conclusions probably apply more generally to wines of this price especially those emanating from the the South of France (four Pays d’Oc and one Southern Rhone) where often high yields and mass production are being used on a grape that actually requires the opposite to show its best side.

Of course this does not take account of the new world under a fiver Viogniers ……. Some of these we have featured in other tastings and are a slightly different story.

Having discovered a sameness in most of this tasting there is one that stands out ……… All are worthy of lazy day drinking but one is worth a second, and even third bottle.

The moral of this story. If you want to buy under a fiver, search for the unfamiliar and keep searching. Every now and then one will jump up and more than pleasantly surprise you and its worth that hunt if you like making discoveries……….. alternatively don’t buy French Viogniers for under a fiver.

Tastings in detail
Le Midi Viognier 2000, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Good oaky fruit and honey smell with a straw colour. The taste it was felt did not live up to the nose, people at the tasting said they expected more. It is a dry wine with a sharp/bitter after taste. A light garden drinking wine accompanying goat’s cheese canapés! Available at £4.49 from Sainsbury’s

Domaine Virginie Viognier 2001, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Strong nose with honey aromas and a very slight burnt smell. A medium straw colour. A light delicate taste, some felt weak on the palate. Some slight fruitiness to the taste but generally a weak structure. It exhibits some length. Produced by the new owners of Oddbins. Available at £4.99 from Oddbins.

Falcon Ridge 2000, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Not a typical Viognier in everything from the bottle to the taste. One of our tasters said that they probably wouldn’t recognise it as a Viognier. Produced by Australians in the Pays d’Oc. A yellow colour with plenty of sweet honey and a tanginess on the nose. Dry taste with some gentle fruit and short after life with mainly acidity lingering. But at £3.99 a wine worthy of quaffing. Available at Morrison’s Supermarkets.

Domaine de Montine Viognier 2000, Vin de Pay du Comte de Grignan, France
Straw coloured with a greenish tinge. Some initial fruit on the nose but grab it while you can because it soon disappears. Oakiness and acid to the taste but fruit is weak. Not a well balanced wine with an acid, slightly sour after taste. £4.99 from Oddbins.

Bellefontaine Viognier 2000, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
This is the goody in the pack with a strong yellow colour. Melon is strong on the nose and less oak. So a nice nose that does deliver in the mouth. A pleasantly petit wine – smooth, subtle and simply pleasant. You would probably get well into a second bottle before realising it! Between and £4.00 and £4.49 from Bristol Wine Co, Corks and Martinez.

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