While Chardonnay and to a lesser extent Torrentes and Sauvignon Blanc are almost always given the nod as South America’s favorite white wines, dry, refreshing Viognier is slowly carving out a name for itself. It pairs well with shellfish, seafood, sushi, and even curry and the wine is drunk best young. Viognier (pronounced “VEE-ohn-yay”) grows well in warm micro-climates and dates back to the time of the Romans, who brought the grape to France’s Rhône Valley, where, until recently, it was almost exclusively grown.
This is what Will Lyons of the Wall Street Journal writes in a recent article (Finding Appeal in Viognier Wines – WSJ.com):
“Pale-gold colored in the glass, it provides a chewy, mouth-filling texture low in acidity, combined with a heady, floral aroma. The nose, often exhibiting notes of apricots, peaches, honeysuckle, blossom and rose petals, can deceive as being that of a sweet wine. Yet Viognier is dry and once swallowed, leaves the palate refreshed with a long, savory, mineral aftertaste.”
Recently, both Argentina and Chile (and to some extent Uruguay) have jumped head deep into Viognier, as has Australia.
Recommended Viognier from South America:
Bodegas Fin del Mundo Reserva 2007 (Neuquén, Argentina): Medium bodied and a little flat, yet floral and fruity with a long finish.
Alamos 2008 (Mendoza, Argentina): Catena’s Viognier, from their Tupungato vineyards, is pale in color with heady floral notes and a pleasant taste of honeydew. Light and crisp.
Anakena 2008 (Rapel Valley, Chile): A fresh, aromatic, and well balanced wine that shows the varietals new world potential. Fruity, with hints of apricot, tangerine, and vanilla.
Cono Sur Reserva 2009 (Colchagua Valley, Chile): Golden apple colored with white peach and apricot notes. Elegant, fresh, and fruity with a mineral ending.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.