Viognier: One Lucky Grape

Written for The Guardian, 5 May 2017

Always a tricky one to pronounce (ignore the g, it’s pronounced vee-on-nay), viognier has a long and interesting history. While most consider viognier a Rhône variety, it actually originated in Croatia.

Legend has it that Roman Emperor Probus was so enamoured with the wine – and its characteristic peach, apricot and blossom aromas – that he ordered the variety to be brought into the Rhône in AD281. It has been used in the region’s wines ever since.

What few people remember is that viognier actually came close to extinction in the 1960s, when just 15 acres remained. Its demise could perhaps be put down to the variety being particularly challenging to grow and ferment. That is not, however, where the story ends. In the past few decades, New World winemakers took up the mantle of making viognier, and it now flourishes in both northern and southern hemispheres. Each region offers a unique expression of the wine, but all share the beloved orchard fruit and invigorating blossom aromas that enticed Emperor Probus almost 2,000 years ago.

Viognier’s warm fruit aromas together with its luscious, full body make it well-suited to food that often seems hard to pair – such as spicy stir-fries and sweet-and-sour dishes.

Written for The Guardian, Published in Print Magazine May 2017

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