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15 February 2005

D.I.Y. Sommelier: Viognier

ViognierIn many ways, Viognier is the white wine equivalent of Pinot Noir:  It's difficult to grow, most low-priced Viognier tastes like oily-bad-Chardonnay, and it masquerades as a red wine in a white wine costume (whereas Pinot is quite like a white wine in a red wine cloak).

Viognier shines in its ancestral home - the Northern Rhône Valley.  Two Rhône appellations allow this grape to bask in all its glory:  Condrieu and Château Grillet (click map).N_rhone

Let's pair this wine with something that is easy-easy to make:  Grilled Shrimp & Tomato Jam

Why does Viognier pair well with this dish?  Grilled shrimp offers smoky and succulent flavors.  Well-made Viognier, while quite full-bodied, also possesses a bit of acidity that knifes through succulent flavors - making them, well, more succulent.  The shrimp smokiness is a good counter balance to the aromatic Viognier.  Tomato Jam is both acidic and sweet.  Viognier is often rich and viscous in the mouth.  Combine these flavors & textures and your mouth will be happy.

So, the next time you're having dinner and your entree is grilled and/or succulent (hello lobster tail in butter), think Viognier.  Or if you find yourself at home and get a hankerin to make something with a Mediterranean flavor, think Viognier.

Lobstertail3 Good Viognier-based wines in 3 price ranges:

  1. Smoking Loon Viognier, '03 ($8-$9) - Believe it!  Sub-$9 Viognier that tastes like Viognier
  2. Terre Rouge Viognier, '00/'01 ($25-$30) - A big wine with added oak-heft
  3. Guigal "La Doriane" Condrieu, '01 ($60-ish) - De-lightful, de-licious, de-lovely


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and for a real, real , real treat... try les chaillerettes or la petit cote from the condrieu master Yves Cuilleron. For me, the best.


Oh sounds wonderful. Sad that I live in wine-repressive Utah. Next time I go out of state, I'll try to track this one down. Thanks for the recommend - beau

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