About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
I’m going to out on a limb and say you’re probably not that familiar with Viognier. Let’s start with figuring out how it’s pronounced, shall we? It’s vee-on-yay, or sometimes vee-own-yay, and definitely not ‘von-yay’ like I thought it was called. Oops. Basically, it’s French, so just pretend the g doesn’t exist.
Viognier’s journey began in the Northern Rhone valley where is was used to blend with Syrah to make (in my opinion) some of the most delicious wine out there. There is also one small subsection of the Northern Rhone, Condrieu, that makes 100% Viognier. That was just about the only place you could find it until the Australian wine industry got going. They gave Viognier a try and it turned out they do it really well – Australia is now another well-known spot for really good Viognier in the world. Other regions dabble (the US, Italy, South Africa) but France and Australia are the main regions to remember if anyone ever mentions Viognier to you.
Now for the real dirt – what does it taste like? Well! This is why I love Viognier so much. This is a big wine! Weird, I know, considering it’s a white, but Viognier packs body as well as alcohol, making it feel big and luscious when you take a sip. It also has some pretty cool (read: rare) fruit – mango, peach and rose are all fair game when it comes to Viognier.
In terms of food pairing there are two ways you could go. I would serve this with a rich chicken or pork dish, especially if it came with some kind of creamy sauce because that would match the creamy nature of the wine. Alternatively you could have something spicy or citrusy, maybe Thai food, to let the two flavours play off each other.
The Test Case
Today’s test case is the Yalumba Y Series Viognier from Australia.
You might recognize this wine from a teeny tiny wine tasting I did with my parents a couple of months ago. We tasted two Viogniers from Yalumba and I really liked both of them so when it came time to choose one for this post I wanted to revisit one of them. I chose the cheaper one, natch.
- You can’t tell because my photography skills still need improvement, but the colour is a pretty pale gold.
- The nose is surprisingly strong! I get apricot and honeysuckle right off the bat, and there’s some peach hanging out there too. And maybe some white pepper? But I might be looking for things that aren’t there at this point.
- The palate! Immediately I get lots of creaminess and this raw, spicy oakiness that usually makes me wonder whether the winemaker used barrels or just straight up dumped oak chips into the vessel (probably steel). Either way, I kinda like it.
- The peach and apricot follow through on the palate, which is good because otherwise this wine would be weird and really jarring from nose to palate. Yay for continuity!
- The body isn’t super full (which is true to the varietal) but it does have some bigness to it and a pretty long finish, both qualities I like, especially in a white wine.
I really like this wine. I could drink it for a good long while. Luckily I have a whole bottle and no plans to share it so I can happily sip on it over the next few days. It’s got fruit I love, some oak going on, a pretty long finish and delicious creaminess that I am so here for. If any of these things sound good to you I definitely recommend scrounging up $14 and checking out this wine.
Next time on NGC – the final entry (we’ve finally made it!), Chardonnay.