By Robert Kleffel and Noemí Paz
If you enjoy a finely crafted Chardonnay you’re going to love a glass of Viognier. It was once fairly common in the Rhone area of France but now it is rare. In 1965, the grape was almost extinct when there were only eight acres in Northern Rhône. In the New World, Viognier is growing in popularity. During the last ten years there has been a huge increase in Viognier production throughout the world and more recently we have begun to see bottles on our supermarket shelves – challenging the monopoly of Chardonnay.
Viognier can be a difficult grape to grow because it is prone to powdery mildew. It has low and unpredictable yields and should be picked only when fully ripe. When picked too early, the grape fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes. When picked too late, the grape produces wine that is oily and lacks perfume. When fully ripe the grapes have a deep yellow color and produce wine with a strong perfume and high in alcohol. The grape prefers warmer environments and a long growing season.
This is a great wine to have on its own with a few appetizers. Salty and fatty snacks such as cashews, beer nuts, and Macadamia nuts will keep you happy with this wine. It’s great to sip while you’re preparing dinner. Viognier’s tropical fruit flavors really shine when paired with fruit dishes, such as a tangy fruity barbecue sauce, mango chutney, plum sauce, or pineapple salsa. You want to stay away from sharper acidic sauces, such as raspberry vinaigrette.
Viognier pairs well with Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter dinners. Turkey, ham and duck all have a sweetness to them that this wine loves. Slow cooked root vegetables, like turnips, carrots and squash, along with sweet potatoes have the same sweetness which brings out this wine’s flavors. Try not to pair it with lighter foods. The wine is so expressive that the dish will be lost. Avoid very tart or sharp flavors, like vinaigrettes or other acid-based dressings, as well as high heat dishes—since Viognier is often high in alcohol, it will make the food seem even hotter.
Escorihueda Gaycon – Viognier $6.00 dollars -A best buy.
Today, Viognier wines are produced in one of the oldest wineries in the New World located in Argentina. The climate of Mendoza is ideal for this difficult wine. Escorihuela was founded in 1884 by Miguel Escorihuela Gascón. This winery has lots of history. For instance, it is believed that Escorihuela Gascón was the first winery to ever bottle a 100% Malbec wine and the brand “Carcasonne Red Wine” was President Peron’s favorite wine. The winery is an historic landmark in the history of Argentine winemaking, yet it houses some of the most advanced winemaking technology in the world, and also has the best restaurant in Mendoza. It is called 1884 and is managed by the local star chef Francis Mallman.
Two Other Viognier Wines to Try
Crane Lake-Viognier- California- $8.00 Dollars—On the nose you will smell green apple, lime, and stone fruit. On the palate you will taste apple, lime, lychee, melon and vanilla.
Yalumba – Viognier-South Australia- $16.00 Dollars—Golden in color, the Yalumba Viognier is an enchanting wine with aromas of lemon and honeysuckle with hints of spice. On the palate it is rich, luscious and silky with juicy tropical fruit, citrus and lychee.
Hot Weather Wine Warning – The room temperature in your home during this time of the year is about 80 degrees. Red wine should be served at about 60 degrees, thus if you serve your red wine at room temperature it will be a disaster. Put your red wine in the fridge for at least ½ hour before serving.
Noemí Paz firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Kleffel email@example.com
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com