Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Enjoy These Creamy, Aromatic Flavours ; THE DRINKS CABINET

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Enjoy These Creamy, Aromatic Flavours ; THE DRINKS CABINET

Article excerpt

A WHITE wine that bridges the boundaries between chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, viognier is a white grape variety from the northern Rhone Valley that has spread its vines to become a fashionable label in wine shops and restaurants.

With the body and richness of chardonnay (without the oak), and the zestiness of sauvignon blanc (without the high acidity), viognier with its creamy, aromatic dry style, and seductive apricot flavours, has inspired winemakers around the world to emulate this southern French gem.

The small appellation of Condrieu on the west bank of the river Rhone is viognier's spiritual home where demand outstrips supply; and consequently the Rhone's finest white wine commands top prices for its outstanding quality which is produced in tiny quantities.

However, head a little further south of the Rhone and you'll find some of the best imitations outside of Condrieu and these heady, scented styles (aka viognier's diffusion line) show admirable quality beneath a perfumed veil of succulent fruit.

For a good introductory style, try Asda Extra Special Viognier 2010, France (Pounds 5, Asda, asda.com), an aromatic, soft white from the Languedoc. An easydrinker with a little apple crumble sweetness and spice, as with most viogniers, this delicate white suits all types of seafood.

Fresh and appealing, Domaine des Trinites Viognier 2010, France (Pounds 8.99, virginwines.co.uk) opens up with honeysuckle and apricot, guava and melon drop flavours with a streak of minerality on the peachy finish, and is good enough to enjoy lightly chilled on its own.

Crisp and delicate with bright acidity, Domaine Les Yeuses 2011, Pays d'OC IGP, France (Pounds 9.75, leaandsandeman.co.uk, 020 7244 0522) is minerally with delightful apricot and almond nuances, ripe stone fruits and a subtle, ginger sweetness on the palate. Viognier's unusual balance of delicate perfume and substantial body can rival some of the best white Burgundy's, and American wine critic Robert Parker awarded the following viognier 90 points (a scoring system out of 100), which is testament to the variety's attributes. …

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