Viognier is a beautiful white wine grape variety that, understandably, is often mis-pronounced. In simple terms, think “vee-own-yay”. For reference, if you have ever tasted a Condrieu from the Rhone Valley in France, it is this very same Viognier grape. Outside of the Rhône area, Viognier is also found in Walla Walla and Columbia Valley in Washington State, Virginia State, Stellenbosch, Franshhoek and Elgin in South Africa, Eden Valley (Barossa) and Adelaide Hills, South Australia, and in neighboring Paso Robles, the North Coast of California, and our very own Central Coast. Known primarily for its perfumy and floral aromatics, some people find that Viognier can be almost too flowery – much like someone who puts on too much perfume at one time. On the other hand, others find the nose to be enticing and somewhat intoxicating.
On the palate, the flavors of Viognier can range from lighter citrus, stone fruit, and even honeysuckle notes to creamier hints of vanilla, heavier fruits and baking spices, with an almost “oily” texture and a round, smooth finish. Of course, where and how it is grown will determine the resulting flavor profile. This author believes that Viognier produces the best wines when it grows in sunny regions with temperatures moderated by cool nights or nearby bodies of water. The importance of cool weather is so that the grape’s natural and precious acidity is maintained, thus leading to a lighter floral and fruity profile, rather than its more opulent, creamy cousin coming from warmer to hotter regions which tend toward much lower natural acidity. As is expected, winemakers differ stylistically, depending on whether or not they choose to age their wines in new oak (barrels), or neutral/ no oak vessels and whether they choose to have a dry or less dry wine as a result of fermentation. As such, Viogniers can range from sweet, off-dry, oily or creamy to dry, light and citrusy, with sometimes a slight touch of bitterness on the finish.
Either way, Viognier is a well loved wine that can be paired with a variety of foods and vegetables, cheeses, and fruits. We decided to make a Viognier under the Venture label and, true to form, we believe ours is different from the more “traditional” California offerings. Hailing from the Rancho Real Vineyard in the cooler climate Santa Maria Valley, the nose has floral notes and fresh stone fruit, but with a fresher edge focus like most of our whites. The wine has a textured and layered mouthfeel, but it is backed up with a beautiful acidity necessary to maintain its freshness. We are super pleased with our version and hope you will be as well. As always, we love to pair our wines with foods, so below is a list of possibilities to explore as our “Indian summer” approaches.
Roasted Chicken, Chicken Curry, Quail, Pork Chop with Apricot Sauce, Roast Turkey Breast, Teriyaki Tofu, Sesame Tempeh, Pan Seared Tilapia or sole with Lemon Beurre Blanc
Comté, Baked Brie with Apricots, Farmer’s Cheese, Fondue, Gruyere, Young Sheep’s Milk Cheeses
Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Marjoram, Tarragon, Fresh Dill, Fresh Sage, Herbs de Provence, Coriander, Lemongrass, Ginger, Shallot, Garlic, Green Onion, Chives, Nutmeg, Allspice, White Pepper, Pink Peppercorn, Saffron, Turmeric, Fennel seeds
Leeks, Fennel, Green Olives, Capers, Cauliflower, Butternut or Delicata Squash, Pumpkin, Kabocha Squash, Currants, Cranberries, Polenta, Leeks, Onions, Sesame Seeds, Yellow Bell Pepper, Passion Fruit, Apricots, Orange, Mango