Viognier

Viognier is traditionally grown in France's northern Rhone Valley, but it has also been doing well in California and Australia. However, at one point in time, the popularity of Viognier was so low that it almost disappeared entirely; in fact, by 1968 Viognier may have been near extinction with an estimated of 30 acres of the vines still existing in France because premium red grapes had become so popular that most Viognier vines had been ripped out to make room for more popular varietals. In California, its newest realm, there were nearly 3,000 acres of Viognier planted as of 2010 but, because Viognier vines do not start producing good wine grapes until they are 15-20 years old, many of the plantings are not commercially viable. 

The main attraction of Viognier is its potentially powerful, rich and complex aroma that often seems like overripe apricots mixed with orange blossoms or acacia. With as distinctive and sweet an aroma flavor as Gewurtztraminer, Viognier is nevertheless usually made in a dry style and seems to appeal more to the typical Chardonnay drinker. The distinctive Viognier perfume holds up even when blended with a large portion of other grapes, as noted winemaker Vic McWilliams has accomplished with his Victor Hill Belle de Blanc, a blend of Marsanne (46%), Grenache Blanc (31%) and Viognier (23%). 

Both Viognier and Chardonnay share tropical fruit flavors and a creamy mouth feel. Even with little or no wood aging, Viognier can be as full-bodied as an oaky Chardonnay but has much more distinctive fruit character. It also typically has a deep golden color, as well as rich and intense flavor. 

As for food matchings, Viognier works well with dishes that might normally call for Gewurtztraminer. Spicy dishes, such as spicy Asian stir-frys and even curry (especially Thai-style which is made with coconut milk), may be accompanied and complemented by Viognier. Viognier also pairs very well with fruit salsas atop grilled fish or chicken, smoked salmon, pork and veal with buttery, creamy or other savory sauces, and pastas with buttery, pesto or cheese sauces. 

Cheeses that pair well with Viognier include Brie and Camembert (with or without rinds), blue cheeses, Brillat-Savarin, Colby, Crescenza, Edam, Feta, Fontina, Gouda (including smoked), Gruyere, Livarot, Mamnchego, Monterey Jack, St. Andre and Teleme.