Elegant varietal brought back from brink of death
IT’S BEEN described by many as voluptuous and mysterious and if chardonnay was the queen of white varietals, then viognier would certainly be the first princess.
As with most varietals, the origin of viognier is unsure. It is presumed to have originated in Croatia and then been brought to the Rhone by the Romans.
Around 1965 this grape was almost extinct; there were approximately only 3.5 hectares planted in Rhone’s north, producing under 2 000 litres of wine.
Last year there were just over 800 hectares of viognier planted just in South Africa. There are a handful of estates producing a 100% viognier, but it can also play a role in blends.
The colour and the aroma of the wine would suggest it’s sweet; however it is predominantly made in a dry style. This aromatic varietal has a similar weightiness to chardonnay and can be produced in a wooded or un-wooded style.
My three fine examples of viognier:
Beau Constantia is one of the youngest properties on the Constantia Wine Route, owned by the DuPreez family since 2002.
The Beau Constantia range is the ultra premium selection of the property and produced in really small quantities.
The talented winemaker,
Justin van Wyk, has produced an exquisite 2017 viognier from 14-year-old vines. I feel viognier shows its true characteristics with vines that are over 10 years old.
There are exotic orange blossoms, white peach and ripe apricots on the noseand on the palate, implausible richness and good acidity balance, which makes this a beautiful food-pairing wine. Spicy peri-peri prawns, chicken marsala are dishes that come to mind. A real show stopper. – R210.
This privately owned property at the foot of Table Mountain has in recent years gained a reputation for its beauty and its award winning wines.
Winemaker Duran Cornhill, under the guidance of Martin Meinert, has produced this exceptional terroir-driven 2016 viognier.
The grapes come from 14-yearold vines with controlled low yields producing beautiful aromatic berries.
Hints of mandarin skin, peach blossom and white pear are predominant on the nose. Positive freshness and good acidity suggests longevity. Great wood integration allows the grape to show off its fruity elegant flavours. It would complement spicy curry dishes like rista, chicken chettinad and laal maas. This wine is able to handle spices like ginger and coriander well. A special wine. – R165
On the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains lies this beautiful estate, surrounded by 4 000 hectares of forest, fynbos, fruit orchards and perfectly manicured vineyards.
With Hannes Nel as cellar master and Timothy Witbooi as winemaker, there is no need to explain why Lourensford has been producing award-winning wines for some time now.
Last year was the driest in
100 years of recorded history at Lourenford, producing smaller, more concentrated berries which ripened extremely early. This resulted refined and elegant wines with slightly lower than normal alcohols compared to other harvests.
This wine is perfumed with wonderful aromas of jasmine, lavender, grapefruit and hints of dried apricots. On the palate there is an abundance of quince flavours complemented with hints of nutmeg, ginger and vanilla.
Lourensford Limited Release viognier 2016 will complement most Indian dishes such as, korma, biryani and traditional South African bobotie.
Although this wine is drinking exceptionally well now it could age for at least another 4-5 years. Exceptional. – R155.
Meletiou is regional sommelier at the Tsogo Sun.
Lourensford Limited Release viognier 2016, Beau Constantia Cecily 2017 and Eagles’ Nest viognier 2016.