The grape that defines hedonism, Viognier produces richly flavored, voluptuously textured wines that are all about pleasure.
While those who speak of Viognier as the next Chardonnay are being a tad optimistic, this is a grape whose day has come. Not so long ago, it was confined to the Rhône Valley. Today, it crops up in vineyards the world over.
Those in search of life after Chardonnay should try this luxurious grape. The Rhône Valley provides the role models, but sexy, peachy Viogniers are now found in several other countries as well.
Thirty years ago, Viognier was virtually unknown outside the northern Rhône. Even there, the wines it made - Condrieu and Chateau Grillet - were hardly famous, and they were waning in popularity. Salvation came from a handful of producers from other regions.
A few in southern France took up the Viognier cause, as did some wine enthusiasts in California looking for life beyond Chardonnay. Both regions now boast several fine versions in which the peachy, apricot kernel shines out. Australia soon followed, and now classy examples can be found in Chile, South Africa and even Italy.