More Viognier being produced?

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More Viognier being produced?

Postby Bruce Hayes » Thu May 11, 2006 10:34 am

Perhaps it is merely my imagination, or perhaps it is merely in the Ontario wine marketplace, but I have noticed recently an increasing number of Viognier offerings from a wide range of countries.

Thinking back, I would have to say that only a few years ago a Viognier wine was a novelty. Now it seems that the LCBO is offering at least one, sometimes more, each month.

So, it is just me, or is Viognier growing in popularity? Interested in hearing your thoughts.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu May 11, 2006 10:43 am

Bruce, a good question. I have been a Viognier fan for a long time...France, Australia, California. Still seem to prefer from Fr. however and I want to taste before buying if from a new winery I am not familar with. Many different styles out there and seem to differ from vintage to vintage (like other wines).
Cazal-Viel is consistent and I used to be a fan of EXP Phillips. Big foodie however.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Bill Spohn » Thu May 11, 2006 10:46 am

Viognier seems to be the new merlot - everyone has to have it and BC winemakers are popping them out to suit as well.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby MtBakerDave » Thu May 11, 2006 11:38 am

I know I see lots of Viognier coming out of Washington state the last year or two ...
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Peter May » Thu May 11, 2006 12:06 pm

Bruce Hayes wrote:
So, it is just me, or is Viognier growing in popularity?


No doubt about it whatsoever.

in 1986 there wasn't enough planted to gain an entry in France's Argricultural Census with only about 32 hectare planted worldwide, mostly all in Condrieu, France.

I think it was the Rhone Rangers in California who felt that their wine was lacking a certain something, and realised that the only winemaking difference from the Rhone was that they co-foremented with a little Viognier there. Thus some Viogner was planted in California, some made it as a varietal just as people were looking for an alternative to Chardonnay and whammo.

Shiraz/Viognier co-fermentation is becoming common in Australia and elsewhere -- Charles Back has even done it with Pinotage.

Lots of inexpensive V now being produced worldwide.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby James Dietz » Thu May 11, 2006 2:44 pm

I hope so!!!!!
Cheers, Jim
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu May 11, 2006 3:13 pm

Peter May wrote:
Lots of inexpensive V now being produced worldwide.


...but so little of it that bears any resemblance to Condrieu (including, alas, those that come from Condrieu itself). Not that Condrieu need be the apotheosis of the varietal, but so few of the Viogniers that I try have much varietal character without descending into an overt heaviness that I find just tires my palate.

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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Paul B. » Thu May 11, 2006 3:29 pm

Bruce Hayes wrote:Perhaps it is merely my imagination, or perhaps it is merely in the Ontario wine marketplace, but I have noticed recently an increasing number of Viognier offerings from a wide range of countries.


Bruce, I'd say you're right, but I'd also add that I've been perplexed by Viognier even showing up in Niagara. I've tried a couple of them and they were essentially neutral wines with none of the glorious Viognier perfume - yet another grape whose name cachet makes it appear in what is likely an unsuitable climate.

From North America, I've been greatly surprised by the quality of the R.H. Phillips example from California. That was a Viognier with a full, ripe and opulent fruity nose.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Bruce Hayes » Thu May 11, 2006 3:39 pm

Paul:

I believe I tried a Daniel Lenko Viognier at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show and I recall it being pretty good.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Paul B. » Thu May 11, 2006 3:41 pm

Bruce, I'm encouraged to read that. I absolutely must visit Lenko's soon. I've been wanting to go there for years.

Maybe if Viognier is dealt with very strictly in the vineyard, with full manual attention, it actually can make some decent wine in Ontario. But just as with Cab Sauvignon, if they're making it indifferently just for the name, then the only V I'll buy is Vidal!
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Bruce Hayes » Thu May 11, 2006 3:43 pm

Paul:

I found the review (although I am now mystified by my reference to mushrooms)!!! :shock:

Daniel Lenko, Viognier, Niagara Peninsula, 2000: Floral and spicy, with strong mushrooms. Rich, sweet and mouth coating.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Sam Platt » Thu May 11, 2006 5:42 pm

It seems to me that the North American Viogniers are green and light compared to the stuff from northern Rhone, and becoming more so all the time. I assume it is because they are being made from grapes that are picked too early. I can imagine that someone who first tasted an N.A. Viognier would not care for the more concentrated Condrieu. I can't say the N.A. offerings are bad, I just don't get that concentrated floral nose and peachy taste that I love in Condrieu.

I love to pair Viognier with Chinese food.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu May 11, 2006 5:50 pm

Hi Bruce,
It is catching on here in NZ too. I think it is grown in every region now, perhaps except in Central Otago, and there have been some good to very good wines produced, as well as others than are quite neutral (like some Pinot Gris can be). I am becoming quite enamoured with Viognier but I haven't tasted anything from here yet that could rival the best from France. But it is early days yet.
Syrah/Viognier co-ferments are also becoming quite popular.
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Hoke » Thu May 11, 2006 5:58 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:Hi Bruce,
It is catching on here in NZ too. I think it is grown in every region now, perhaps except in Central Otago, and there have been some good to very good wines produced, as well as others than are quite neutral (like some Pinot Gris can be). I am becoming quite enamoured with Viognier but I haven't tasted anything from here yet that could rival the best from France. But it is early days yet.
Syrah/Viognier co-ferments are also becoming quite popular.
Cheers,
Sue


Had to chime in here, in a nitpicky pedagogical sorta way (isn't that irritating?) and point out that while co-fermenting Syrah and Viognier is gaining in popularity, in order for the Viognier aromatics to give noticeable "lift" to Syrah, it is not quite the same as the original model in the Rhone, where Cote Rotie is the most famous version: basically, the difference is that in Cote Rotie the preferred method is to harvest the Syrah and Viognier as field blend and press and ferment together, rather than to either add the two together later, or to add the finished ferments of the two together...which is what a lot of new world types do.

One is based on traditional practices developed over long periods of time; the other is an experimental, 'what if' approach. Not commenting on whether either is good or bad, mind you, just making the point they are different.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu May 11, 2006 6:04 pm

Hoke wrote:
Sue Courtney wrote:Hi Bruce,
It is catching on here in NZ too. I think it is grown in every region now, perhaps except in Central Otago, and there have been some good to very good wines produced, as well as others than are quite neutral (like some Pinot Gris can be). I am becoming quite enamoured with Viognier but I haven't tasted anything from here yet that could rival the best from France. But it is early days yet.
Syrah/Viognier co-ferments are also becoming quite popular.
Cheers,
Sue


Had to chime in here, in a nitpicky pedagogical sorta way (isn't that irritating?) and point out that while co-fermenting Syrah and Viognier is gaining in popularity, in order for the Viognier aromatics to give noticeable "lift" to Syrah, it is not quite the same as the original model in the Rhone, where Cote Rotie is the most famous version: basically, the difference is that in Cote Rotie the preferred method is to harvest the Syrah and Viognier as field blend and press and ferment together, rather than to either add the two together later, or to add the finished ferments of the two together...which is what a lot of new world types do.

One is based on traditional practices developed over long periods of time; the other is an experimental, 'what if' approach. Not commenting on whether either is good or bad, mind you, just making the point they are different.


Er ... What's the difference between co-ferment and ferment together? Some winemakers here will be pressing and fermenting together when they can but they the two varieties do not always ripen at the same time, even if pruned to try and achieve that. Do Viognier and Syrah always ripen at the same time in Cote-Rotie?

PS nice to chat again, Hoke.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Hoke » Thu May 11, 2006 6:20 pm

Sue:

Do both varieties ripen at the same time? Certainly not. Each ripens when they will. But in Cote Rotie, they do field harvest blends, getting what they get that year

Is there a difference between field blends and post-fermentation blending? I'd instinctively say yes, there is, for no other reason than the post-fermentation blending gives you a much finer control over how you change the taste and texture and aroma of the finished wine.

The field blend method obviously gives you what nature gives you (once you have made the decision of when to harvest of course), so once harvest and press is done, you get what you get.

If you do the post fermentation blend process, then essentially you are combining two disparate elements---basically, doing the graduated lab beaker exercise, ad the focus shifts away from what the vineyard/nature is providing you to what you are manipulating after the fact. Or to put it another way, you can argue that in field blend, the vineyard makes the wine, but in post-fermentation blend, the winemaker creates the wine. (Which sounds strikingly familiar to the age-old continuing argument of Old World methods versus New World methods, dunnit?)

(Again, understand, I'm not weighting these things on a value basis. Simply trying to elucidate the differences in approach.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu May 11, 2006 6:39 pm

Hoke, you were the one that mentioned post-fermentation blending, which is different to co-fermenting as far as I am concerned. Sure, some people do post-fermentation blending, but the Kiwis are trying to emulate Cote-Rotie and many of them co-ferment, as that is the tradition. I spoke to one winemaker about what they do if the grapes don't ripen at the same time, and that guy told me that this year (which was a strange year climatic-wise here) he froze the unfermented Viognier juice then he added it to the Syrah, which ripened later, so they could ferment together. You have to acknowledge that these wines are made in very small quantities here, and say there was one percent of Viognier in the blend, not much is required at all. Also there are different reactions when these grapes are co-fermented, like the intensification of the colour. This doesn't happen with post-fermenation blends.
Cheers,
Sue
Last edited by Sue Courtney on Thu May 11, 2006 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu May 11, 2006 6:45 pm

Hoke wrote:Sue:

The field blend method obviously gives you what nature gives you (once you have made the decision of when to harvest of course), so once harvest and press is done, you get what you get.


Ok, what is happening, as I understand it, is that grapes are harvested and go through a crusher/destemmer into a vat/tank for cold soak, pre-ferment maceration until ferment starts either sponaneously or by addition of yeast. There is no pressing until after ferment and post-ferment maceration.

But we are getting a bit off-topic, I think.

Cheers,
Sue
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Hoke » Thu May 11, 2006 8:18 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:
Hoke wrote:Sue:

The field blend method obviously gives you what nature gives you (once you have made the decision of when to harvest of course), so once harvest and press is done, you get what you get.


Ok, what is happening, as I understand it, is that grapes are harvested and go through a crusher/destemmer into a vat/tank for cold soak, pre-ferment maceration until ferment starts either sponaneously or by addition of yeast. There is no pressing until after ferment and post-ferment maceration.

But we are getting a bit off-topic, I think.

Cheers,
Sue


I should have been a bit a more careful in my precise wording, Sue, and said "harvest and destemming", rather than press. At least I managed to avoid the use of the politically incorrect "crush". :D What in fact happens varies according to the desires of the winemaker. Some harvest and destem. Some harvest destemm and bladder press. Some harvest, destem and bladder press, then divert the more phenolic juice at certain levels. Some still harvest and press fully. Some still harvest and press, then do a second press (although they may use it themselves, or more likely sell that second press juice off for cash flow). Some people still do as much "crush" as they can---although admittedly that style of winemaking is becoming less and less popular.

What I meant was the differences are 1)field blending, 2) co-fermentation of separate vineyard/variety pickings, 3) post-fermentation blending. Depending on the metaphysical stance of the one arguing, each could be construed as significantly different from the other. Since I don't have a dog in this hunt (colloquialism for not being personally involved or taking a stance either way), I would consider each approach valid for making wine.
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Re: More Viognier being produced?

Postby Peter May » Fri May 12, 2006 8:11 am

Mark Lipton wrote:
Peter May wrote:
Lots of inexpensive V now being produced worldwide.


t so few of the Viogniers that I try have much varietal character without descending into an overt heaviness that I find just tires my palate.



Agree. It's not a variety that rings my bell. Of course, most plantings are very young, and viticulturists and winemakers are still learning how to get it to show its best.
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