Viognier - The grape that nearly got away…
The Viognier Grape Variety
Viognier as a grape variety is originally from Eastern France in the Rhone Valley, which traditionally needs plenty of warmth from the sunshine to ripen into its full-bodied potential and to give it that pronounced aroma we all associate so vividly with Viognier.
Up until forty years ago you would have barely seen a wine made from 100% Viognier outside of the Rhone Valley region, this is because the grape variety famously produces quite low yields proving to be a difficult-to-master task, even for the most experienced of winemakers.
During these bleak times for the Viognier grape variety it was only a few brave winemakers from Rhone, Tuscany and Piedmonte who chose to grow it, with the strict intentions of blending it with Marsanne and/or Roussanne varieties in hope of producing a softer, lighter-styled wine.
The 1980’s were a wonderful time to be alive for many different reasons but most especially because it was time for the resurgence of Viognier!
We as humans love a challenge and by 1980 winemakers were ready to work with this stubborn grape type - native to Eastern France.
Although Viognier’s roots are firmly attached to the Rhone Valley, it was producers from Tuscany who really made the most out of its potential during the resurgence. They saw the Viognier grape not only as a challenge to make great wine from a stubborn variety, but also as a way of showcasing just how beautiful this grape type really is. The best wine made from 100% Viognier in today’s world comes from Tuscany, you can expect a full-bodied super fruit-focused wine when young, and a much more elegant version when aged.
Cheers to the winemakers in Tuscany who are continuing to pay true homage to the Viognier grape variety!