05/02/07 – Viognier

By Jesse on May 1, 2007


Please enjoy this photo of Scarlett Johansson.

One might wonder why I started the e-mail with a photo of Scarlett Johansson… although I assume some of the men did not bother to (and I would be inclined to think at least a few of the women as well, which, believe me, is understandable).  I’ll tell you why: in my limited experience with the wine, and drawing somewhat on what I’ve read in preparation for this meeting, I feel that Viognier might most aptly be compared with Scarlett Johansson on the good old “what famous person does this wine remind me of” scale.  The majority of the articles on the white grape Viognier tend to reference its floral nature, its intense fruit aromas, and its richness of body and flavor.  It also seems to vary significantly, as many whites do, on the basis of production methods.  Apparently Viognier is occasionally over-oaked in a Chardonnay style, which doesn’t produce great results — similarly, Scarlett is sometimes overdone and not as appealing as when she’s allowed to express her remarkable natural beauty in a more subtle, intimate setting, in which her true complexities are even more resplendent.  (You know it’s a good analogy when you can’t tell if I’m talking about the actress or the grape!)

Viognier used to be widely-planted but suffered significantly following the Phylloxera plagues and had declined to only eight acres in France by the 1960’s.  It was re-discovered, however, and made a comeback, although the Viognier from the Northern Rhone region of Condrieu is still considered some of the very best.  It’s also widely planted in California and in Australia; for a complete list of Viognier regions around the world, check out the “other areas” portion of a very interesting website appropriately called www.EnjoyingViognier.com.  (The Wine Varietals Index lists the specific regions in California, Oregon and Washington that are known for Viognier production.)

The PASO ROBLES trip has been thoroughly discussed; thanks very much for everyone’s input.  The consensus swayed slightly towards the later date, so we’ll be going to Paso Robles on Saturday, May 12, a week and a half from now.  More details at the meeting and in an e-mail following.  It seems very likely it’ll be a day trip rather than an overnight… if anyone has comments or suggestions, please show up at the meeting to discuss them, or simply e-mail me.

This week’s meeting will be back at my place in the Sh’oaks.  Bring a chilled bottle of delicious Viognier, some tasting notes, an article of interest, or a photo of Scarlett Johannson.  See y’all on Wednesday night at 9:00.