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Fall in love with Viognier

April 28 is international Viognier day!

Although we love to celebrate Viognier year-round, we'll take any excuse to promote this wonderful grape! Viognier is well-established in some markets, especially where Albarino hasn't found its base, but it still tends to sit in the lesser-known variety when it comes to people knowing and understanding the grape. It doesn't help that it can be difficult to pronounce ('vee-on-yay'), especially when you're ordering from a wine list.

The Viognier grape originated in France, around Condrieu in the Northern Rhône, but owing to its fussy nature - it's quite difficult to grow and to get right - it fell out of favour and mid-20th century it had almost disappeared. Thankfully, there's been a renaissance over the last 50 years and the grape has been firmly re-established on the world stage, with (we think) the best examples still coming from France. Laurent first planted Viognier in 1992 and we were the pioneers of this grape in the Languedoc. Laurent and Henri recognised that Viognier grows well on similar soil and in similar climatic conditions to Syrah. Plantings were made in a north to south direction, ensuring that we protect the grapes with the canopy from the burning midday sun. This also helps to retain acidity as the grapes ripen more slowly and evenly - acidity is the holy grail when it comes to Viognier. It tends towards higher potential alcohol and lower acidity, so it's important to manage it well in order to optimise the lovely ripe, exotic, tropical fruit profile, without risking falling into an over-ripe, flabby style.

We are very careful in our winemaking with Viognier. We are lucky to have many healthy, old vines that give small yields of highly-concentrated grapes. We harvest by night to preserve the acidity and freshness and we get a very pure juice from a gentle pressing, while retaining the aromatic quality of this variety. Viognier is fresh and juicy when young and unoaked, and is a lovely alternative to Pinot Grigio and un-oaked Chardonnay - good examples of this would be Vendanges Nocturnes Viognier and Solas Viognier. It also likes oxygen so you can happily consume your wine over a few days, without worrying about spoilage (although we always recommend keeping it in the fridge).

The Viognier grape also pairs very well with oak, especially when it comes from older vines. La Verité Viognier is sourced from our oldest vines and is 70% aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months, which adds complexity and depth to the wine. La Verité recently scored 94 points with Decanter and 93 points from Tim Atkin. Pair Viognier with any spiced foods, especially Thai, Middle-Eastern or other Asian-inspired dishes. It's also a great partner to cheese, especially hard cheese.

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