It’s fair to say that Viognier (vee-on-yay) is a grape variety and style of white wine that is less favoured compared to the others. It’s not as fashionable, it's not as popular. Back in 1986 there was just 32ha of it left in the entire world, but it's since been able to fight its way back from extinction. But that isn't to say that it's bad quality. When grown and made right, it can produce some excellent styles of white wine.
Its home is in the Northern Rhone, in the region of Condrieu, and Viognier is known for its high alcohols, low acidities, and sumptuous tropical fruit flavours, like mango, tangerine and floral honeysuckle flavours. It has a very impressive balance between bright perfumed aromas, and a creamy rich body. It's a perfect food pairing with spicier foods.
It's got similarities to a big buttery Chardonnay, being soft and creamy on the palette, with oaked styles showing more vanilla and nutmeg flavours, along with a slight oiliness in terms of texture.
In our cool to relatively moderate New Zealand climate, wineries need to make sure that they bring out Viognier’s aromatic potential, because the characteristic aromas only develop quite late in the ripening process. They can do this by careful canopy management, lowering yields, and making sure their Viognier vines are in a warmer microclimate.