ShareThis Page
Dave DeSimone

4 Viognier white wines perfect for summertime

Dave DeSimone
| Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 8:51 p.m.
White wines made from Viognier grapes offer distinctive honeysuckle and ripe fruit aromas.
Dave DeSimone
White wines made from Viognier grapes offer distinctive honeysuckle and ripe fruit aromas.

Summer's arrival brings pleasures aplenty. But none surpasses the experience of strolling on a sultry evening as blooming honeysuckle vines fill the air with redolent, intoxicating aromas. Returning home, you can enjoy strikingly similar aromas while finding refreshment with sips of well-chilled white wines made from Viognier grapes.

Viognier (pronounced Vee-yoh-N'YAY) vines find their spiritual home in France's northern Rhône Valley in the Condrieu appellation. The best locations have granite soils on terraces carved into sheer, southeast facing slopes overlooking the Rhône River. Somehow this terroir allows Viognier grapes to develop remarkable honeysuckle perfumes as well as other intriguing aromas and flavors.

Even so, Condrieu's growers have experienced tremendous challenges. Since all work vineyard at the best sites must be completed by hand, the labor shortage and depressed economy after the World War II almost caused the Viognier vines to disappear.

But the likes of négociant Marcel Guigal (a grower and commercial purchaser of grapes) and grower Georges Vernay, the late “Pope of Condrieu,” persevered. They continued making traditional, highly perfumed wines with ripe, pure fruit, modest oaky traits and dry finishes. The wines paired well with local foods served at nearby popular restaurants such as La Pyramide in Vienne and Le Beau Rivage in Condrieu, itself. As global wine consumption expanded into the late 20th century, tourists rediscovered the wines.

Condrieu's pleasures eventually attracted a wider following. Viognier production expanded significantly and not only in France. Producers the world over now steadily plant Viognier vines hoping to capture a little magic of their own.

While prices for Condrieu whites have risen steeply, the following Viognier-based wine offer an affordable introduction to the grape:

2017 Les Vignerons de Cases de Pène, “Penya” Viognier, I.G.P. Côtes Catalanes, France (Luxury 74054; $9.99). This tasty wine comes from Viognier grown near the Spanish border in Roussillon, a region also known as “French Catalonia.” The grapes ferment in concrete vats to preserve white flower and peach aromas. Lively citrus and quince flavors balance with fresh acidity. The fruity, but dry finish pairs well with caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. Recommended.

2016 Vins Dupré, Les Champs De Lierre, Viognier, I.G.P. Ardèche, France (Luxury 78709; Chairman's Selection On Sale: $17.99): This wine's négociant producer buys Viognier grapes from growers located near the Condrieu appellation. So the wine bears a strong resemblance to Condrieu starting with the deep golden color. Lovely honeysuckle and ripe peach aromas waft from the glass. Ripe tangerine, red grapefruit and peach flavors unfold with good concentration in the glass. Just enough acidity and pleasant creamy notes balance the dry, lingering finish. Pair it with grilled salmon steaks with capers. Highly Recommended.

2017 Alexandria Nicole Cellars, “Crawford” Viognier, Columbia Valley, Washington State (Luxury 75360; $19.99): This highly perfumed wine offers honeysuckle, freesia and ginger spice aromas opening to delicious tangerine and honeydew melon flavors. Just enough fresh acidity carries the dry, fruity finish. Pair it with fresh crab salad. Highly Recommended.

2016 Clos La Chance, Viognier Reserve, Central Coast, California (Luxury 47509; $24.99). This second-generation, family owned winery uses Viognier grapes grown in California's Central Coast. A warm, sunny climate prevails, but the grower deftly avoids overripening the fruit to preserve the Viognier's charms. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks delivers a wine with subtle floral aromas. Understated quince and pear flavors balance with freshness and creamy notes through a lingering refined finish. Pair it with grilled grouper fish.Recommended.

Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me