Viognier is blended with Marsanne and Roussanne to create a softer, lighter style; it is also occasionally co-fermented with Syrah in Côte-Rôtie to help stabilise the colour and add perfume to the red wine.
A few decades ago Viognier barely existed outside the northern Rhône. But a surge of interest in the 1980s meant it quickly spread round the vineyards of the world. Growers love a challenge and this heady, difficult-to-master grape proved hard to resist!
South Australia makes perfumed Viognier in the northern Rhône style. The best come from near the coast where oceanic influences allow enough coolness to provide finesse and elegance, whilst the heat ensures full ripening and flavour development.
New Zealand’s North Island, specifically Hawke’s Bay, also provides such a combination of heat and sea breezes. The best maintaining lively acidity with wonderfully aromatic fruit flavours.
In South Africa is used both to add perfume to reds, as in the northern Rhône, and to add aromatic lift and texture to the whites. Some growers are making pure varietal wines, often using a little oak to round out the flavours and impart structure. Once again the most successful wines come from vineyards that have good heat but benefit from the cooling influence of altitude or sea breezes.