|Food 99/1: Don't overlook Viognier any longer|
|Wednesday, 21 March 2012 18:41|
On the wine list at Flying Fish, there is a section titled “overlooked whites”. This section is for wines that are often unknown or undervalued. In this section is the grape variety called Viognier. Historically, the Viognier grape has been traced back to the Romans centuries ago, and has been proven to be a cousin of the Nebbiolo grape (which produces the famous Barolo wines of Italy).
But, despite its history, Viognier has been named a native to the Côtes du Rhône appellation in France. The area within the appellation is called Condrieu, the northern end of northern Côtes du Rhône. Viognier is the only grape variety in this appellation dedicated to only white wine.
Although native to France, Viognier has quickly increased plantings in Australia, South Africa, Austria and California. Only a decade ago, this grape variety was nearly extinct, then its popularity rose and it has been gaining popularity ever since.
Viognier is a particularly difficult grape to grow as it needs to be picked only when fully ripe and has a notoriously low yield. It is known for its dark straw colour and particular aroma of white flowers, tropical fruit, peaches and apricots with a distinctive muskiness.
Acidity levels in the wines are always low while the mouth feel is quite full bodied. Because of the low acidity, the wines can often feel unbalanced or “hot” which means the alcohol feels stronger than the acidity. To mask this, vintners often leave a bit of residual sugar for the final product wine. If the viognier is made in a stainless steel vessel then the apricot and peach flavours are brought out, but if it is made in oak barrels the vanilla and spice are the dominating flavours.Because it is a full bodied white like chardonnay (without all the buttery oak), Viognier pairs very well with rich dishes like seafood, lobster, crab, scallops or any kind of sushi, soft cheese like brie or goat and pungent cheese like bleu. For vegetarians, try a Viognier with roasted vegetables, pumpkin soup or mashed sweet potatoes. These dishes have a natural sweetness that pairs perfectly with the body and fruit flavours of the wine.
Try to avoid sour or vinaigrette based foods as those flavours will steal away the natural charming characteristics of the Viognier grape. Because of the expressive nature of this full bodied wine, lighter fares will pale in comparison to the wine, try to avoid light dishes.
A few producers to look for who produce good quality Viognier from California are Cline, Pepperwood Grove and Bonterra. Drink the wine at a crisp 50F or 10C to bring out the fruit flavours to balance out the body.
Creating flavour memories and food matches keep your palate fresh and food pairing alive. Join us at Flying Fish Modern Seafood for a seafood and Viognier match today! Open for dinner 7 nights a week from 6pm, lunch Monday to Friday 11:30am-2:00pm.
Cheers & happy quaffing.
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