Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wine of the week – Special Christmas Part II – Viognier (White/California)

Hi all,
If you’re not aware, the countdown to Christmas has started. This month, I have selected a sparkling, a white, a red and a sweet wine to best accompany the traditional British Christmas meal.
This week, Christmas dinner part two: the roasted chicken/turkey. An obvious Christmas meal so I went for a more original wine choice: a Viognier. Let me explain.

What it is
Aromatic dry white wine made from Viognier grape. Wine shown is from California although Viognier is a well-known French delicacy.

What to expect
Appearance: Deep Lemon-Gold.
Nose: Delicate perfume of almonds, dried apricots, honey and flowers.
Palate: Full bodied with almond/walnut flavours to start with and then a refreshing taste of white peach and dried apricots. Ever so slightly syrupy texture but not cloying at all. Low acidity (think a bit flabby). Not overpowering despite high alcohol. Dry with a little zest of citrus on the finish.
Score: 7/10 (wine shown)
You’ll like it if you like: Dried apricots, almonds, aromatic whites e.g. Gewurtzraminer; Riesling; dry Muscat; Verdejo; Fiano.

Have it with
Your guests during Christmas dinner. Yes to the roast Turkey or Chicken. But with a bit of twist: Honey-glazed Turkey or Almond sauce Chicken.
N.B: Because the wine is full bodied and aromatic, you want to ensure that your dish has got a reasonably rich texture and also an extra touch of spices to your dish. Hence the almond sauce or the honey glazing.
Which means it will also go perfectly with creamy leeks and roasted root vegetables. Would also go nicely with your Christmas cheeseboard! (Comté, Montgomery Cheddar, Mild & creamy goat cheese, Taleggio).
If you’re a veggie, this would go perfectly with a nut roast and vegs!
Also would go very nicely with ginger-butter cream lobster or lime & garlic king prawns.

Where to find it
1) Oeno (Cirencester) - £11.50 (wine shown). Would recommend the Cotes du Rhone @ £9.50 which is as good and a couple of pounds cheaper.
2) Sainsburys - £7.99. Elegant Frog from Rhone valley.
3) Tesco - £8.29. On offer until 03/01.
4) Waitrose - £8.29. Same wine as Tesco. Not on offer but same price.
4) Majestic - £35. Very fine wine and not crazy pricing for a Condrieu. Condrieu is meant to be the fines expression of Viognier so why not get the best for Christmas. 

Did you know
> The origins of the grape Viognier and its name are not very clear. Some believe that ‘Viognier’ stems from the roman pronunciation of the greek word ‘Gehennae’, which means ‘Valley of hell’ and could potentially refer to the difficulty of growing the grape.
> In the mid-1960s, Viognier was nearly extinct in France and it took 20 years for the variety to expand again.
> Viognier’s traditional heartland is the Rhone valley in France (south of Lyon) where the Mistral wind cools down the otherwise Mediterranean climate of the area. Condrieu, a tiny stretch of land in the northern part of the Rhone, is the finest AOC for Viognier. With prices to match. Viognier can often be an essential part of the white Cotes du Rhone wine blends as well as in the Vin de pays d’Oc.
> You can find Viognier from California (wine shown), Chile, Argentina, Australia and even from Japan!
> Because it is a variety that is both very aromatic and difficult to produce, Viognier is often blended with other grapes like Roussane and Marsanne in France or Chardonnay (France/Chile) or Chenin Blanc (South Africa). Australians also use it to soften their powerful Shiraz.
> Viognier’s skin is rich in phenols, which is meant to have a great health effects: anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory. Hooray!

Cheers! Santé! Salud! Salute!

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