What to drink…

This month Richard Hem­ming takes a look at the Viog­nier grape va­ri­ety

Living France - - À LA MAISON -

Not that long ago, Viog­nier was nearly ex­tinct. Its heart­land is north­ern Rhône, specif­i­cally a small appellation called Con­drieu, which lies ap­prox­i­mately 40km south of Lyon. In Ro­man times, these fields were highly prized for viti­cul­ture, but by the 1960s the amount of Viog­nier planted had dwin­dled to just a few hectares.

Since then, how­ever, it has be­come more and more pop­u­lar, thanks to its dis­tinc­tive and pow­er­ful fruit flavour. At its best, Viog­nier gives a pure and ripe scent of peaches and apri­cots, is usu­ally full bod­ied and of­ten high in al­co­hol.

Hav­ing such a strong per­son­al­ity means that not ev­ery­one is go­ing to like it. Through­out the 1990s it was mooted as the nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to Chardon­nay, but to­day fash­ions have swung away from big, blousy whites to­wards lighter, more citric styles such as Pinot Gri­gio and Sau­vi­gnon Blanc.

But if you like the idea of juicy, trop­i­cal fruit flavours in your wine, then put Viog­nier on your shop­ping list.

The best ex­am­ples from north­ern Rhône don’t come cheap – Con­drieu starts at around £25 nowa­days, and only goes up from there. Thank­fully, the Langue­doc re­gion pro­duces bet­ter-value op­tions, as ever, and Viog­nier thrives in its warm sunny cli­mate.

Serve it cool but not ice-cold, and try serv­ing along­side hearty dishes – or even a good strong ched­dar.

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