The Sommelier India Tasting Panel tastes a selection of Indian and International Viognier. Left to right: Rukn Luthra, Rovina Sabnani, Harshal Shah, Reva K Singh and visiting SI co-publisher, Shiv Singh. British wine writer and broadcaster, Oz Clarke says of Viognier that you should imagine all the aromatic flowers and fruit that you can, and then throw them into a glass and you’ll have Viognier. And certainly, the examples that we tried were wonderfully aromatic.
We expected to find medium-bodied wines with moderate to high alcohol levels, and that was indeed the case. None of the wines were below 13% alcohol. Generally, this did not detract from the flavour profile of the wines. The most glaring problem with some of the wines was not the wines themselves, but the effects of poor storage.
From seeming obscurity in the 1960s, Viognier is now planted in many of the world’s leading wine producing regions. The best examples of Viognier come from the Condrieu, the tiny commune in the Rhône, where the wines have the heady aroma of orange blossom, apricots, candied orange peel and acacia flower, balanced with good minerality. India is making some very impressive examples of Viognier, too. It is best drunk within three to four years of bottling.
Le Petit Jaboulet Viognier 2007 – Languedoc, France
A rich, intense nose of peach/apricot/nectarine/papaya-like fleshy fruit. Some creamy notes too with layers of orange blossom, rock salt and pepper. Light to medium-bodied on the palate with delicate ‘lemon’ acidity. Medium length. Importer: Sonarys Cobrands
Miner Family Vineyards Simpson Vineyards Viognier – Central Valley, California
Medium gold in appearance with a very ripe, developed nose. Some creamy, dairy characters too. Very faint flavours on the palate. Perhaps some ripe papaya and stone fruit with a hint of spice. Importer: Brindco Limited
Four Seasons Viognier, Sahyadri Valley, Maharashtra, India
Delicate gun flint mineral notes with fresh, ripe papaya and ripe pear. Prominent, refreshing acidity with citrus fruit on the palate. Medium-bodied with a good finish. Varietally very sound.
E. Guigal Condrieu 2004
Deep lemon/gold in appearance. Hints of butter/MLF characters on the nose. Delicate, ripe papaya and fleshy fruit aromas. Medium-bodied on the palate with pleasing texture and weight. Some spice and orange-blossom characters. Good, long finish. Importer: Brindco Limited
Grover Vineyards Viognier – Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
Deep lemon/gold in appearance. Some stalky notes on the nose along with some pineapple fruit notes. A fairly balanced wine stone fruit and weight. Good finish.
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2006 – Barossa Valley, Australia
Still some green flecks in appearance. Some tropical notes with vanilla and oak characters on the nose with some floral characters and nectarine/apricot aromas quite intense. On the palate, good balance between acidity and fruitiness- ripe papaya, apricots and even some citrus characters. Oak and alcohol in harmony with a long finish. Importer: Sonarys Cobrands
Sula Vineyards Dindori Reserve Viognier 2009 – Nashik Valley, Maharashtra, India
Tropical, almost sherbet-like aromas. Tropical notes and ripe, fleshy fruit (nectarines, peaches, papaya) also quite intense. Fruity palate, lifted by residual sugar. Could do with a tad more acidity. Long finish.