The finest rendition of Viognier
comes from the small Rhone
Valley appellation of Condrieu, where the best wines from steep, granite-rich slopes show an exotic perfume of peach, apricot, pear, spring flowers, and honeysuckle; a rich but normally dry middle palate; and an overall sense of delicacy. A growing number of wines are being made with substantial residual sugar, but the trend to increasing use of new oak, which often muffles the variety's delicate fruits and flowers, happily has peaked. Condrieu is generally best in the first year or two after release for its seductive aromatic qualities, but a few of the more classic, mineral-driven examples, especially from Chateau Grillet, are notable exceptions to this rule. Viognier planted in Southern France
, and elsewhere tends to be far less nuanced and delineated, more obviously warm with alcohol, and even shorter-lived.
Photo by jodastephen via Flickr.com, used under the Creative Commons 2.0 license.