Illustration by João Neves
Its descriptors are as hedonistic as a wine can get: the whiff of blooming honeysuckles on a balmy summer evening, slices of juicy, white-fleshed peaches at a farmers market stall, an oversized vase of jasmine blossoms scenting a luxe hotel lobby. But along with Viognier’s beguiling charm comes a fickleness. Low yields, propensity to powdery mildew and a short ripening window—too early and it’s bland, too late and it’s oily and flabby—are headaches for winemakers.
When it’s perfect, it’s fragrant and voluptuous, with alluring notes of stone fruit, honey, star anise and ginger. Louisa Rose, chief winemaker at Yalumba, notes how those flavors can combine with “lovely richness and softness” in quality Viogniers. “Equally important is that fresh, refreshing finish,” she says.
Here are three regions that deftly temper Viognier’s capriciousness into sheer, unapologetic pleasure.