The garden-party wine

The most floral of whites, Viognier is your pour for a warm spring day


Thomas J. Story

Honeysuckle, citrus blossoms, gardenias, peaches ― garden meets orchard in a glass of Viognier.

The grape is a relative newcomer to Western wine country. Twenty years ago, there were a paltry 25 acres of Viognier vines in California, and those only because of a few early devotees who had tucked budwood from the grape’s home in France’s Rhône Valley into their luggage ― "Samsonite cuttings," they’re called. Today, around 2,500 acres grow in the state (the Central Coast claims the bulk of them), plus more are coming on in southern Oregon and eastern Washington.

Loaded with aromatics and, at its best, spices and minerals, Viognier is good for some intriguing food matches. The wine has a couple of weaknesses to watch out for, though: a tendency toward high alcohol (because it has to get really ripe before it’s any good) and low acidity (think flabby). But when it balances flamboyance with crispness, West Coast Viognier is this season’s best garden-party wine.


Deals and steals

Worth a splurge

Next: Perfect pairings for Viognier



Perfect pairings for Viognier

With floral aromas, sweet-seeming fruit flavors, and rich textures, Viognier is made for bold, exotic dishes. It’s also great with cheeses and nuts. Some favorite pairings:

Macadamia Chicken with Orange-Ginger Sauce and Coconut Pilaf
We’ve layered this dish with tropical flavors to match Viognier’s perfume and bright citrus and stone-fruit flavors.

Printed from: