Floral, bold and sometimes so luxurious it can seem almost sweet, Viognier is one white grape that’s not hard to identify. Elderflowers, honeysuckle and apricots are all common descriptors used to describe a variety that has been long thought of by critics to produce some of the finest whites, particularly in the Rhône Valley.
Indeed up until recently it was confined to being a cult wine of the northern Rhône. But wine is just as susceptible to the fads of fashion as clothes and hairdos and it is now grown worldwide, with particular success in southern France and Australia. Down-under it is used, intriguingly, as a co-fermenter with Shiraz, enhancing the aroma and texture of an otherwise straightforward varietal. In southern France, just a little Viognier goes a long way to elevate white blends of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.