As I’ve documented elsewhere, Viognier and I have a difficult relationship. I hated it, I fell in love with Condrieu, I fell out of love with the price tag and I have had fleeting dalliances ever since.
Viognier’s now on the WSET Level 2 tasting list so I’m forced to feign a more regular interest in this grape. It also meant that I approached this wine with an academic, as well as a personal, interest.
The grape is picky, low yielding and temperamental in the hands of the winemaker which means that it’s not hugely widely grown. It’s natural home is the northern Rhône in France (you’ll find it solo as a white wine most famously in Condrieu and Ch Grillet) and it’s grown in a few pockets worldwide, including Australia.
In the glass, a distinct mid-gold colour. On first glance, this wine stands itself apart from wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris/Grigio.
The nose is actually quite subtle for a Viognier, but it is still noticeably dominated by apricot. In this wine’s case, it is dried apricot, backed up with the fresh fruit and a touch of spice.
The palate shows even more dried apricot and a slightly bitter apricot kernel finish. The acidity is not bad but a bit of extra zing does not go astray and I recommend serving this wine reasonably well chilled – that seems to liven things up quite a bit. The wine does have really lovely weight and mouth feel.
Because this wine does not show off the overt fresh apricot that is really typical of Viognier it will be an excellent introduction to the wine, or re-introduction for someone who thinks they don’t like Viognier. On day 2 it actually was drinking pretty well although the alcohol stuck out a bit more.
The fact this wine is a little lighter on the apricot than many Viogniers means it is a less difficult food match. Because of the wine’s weight I’d avoid any very light or neutral foods but I imagine it would work well with chicken and fish like salmon or tuna (particularly if they’ve been pan fried or even bqqed). Think salmon with a miso and sesame glaze and you may be heading on the right track.
Taylors Winemaker’s Project Clare Valley Viognier, sample, RRP $25 (listed as a cellar door exclusive)