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If you are quick you may get onto the band waggon of this wonderful Rhone variety. There are lots of bargain wines still around.

First a little history. The Viognier white grape variety was rescued from near extinction just a few decades ago and is now one of the hottest varietals going around. If you are becoming a little jaded by Chardonnay and can’t quite cop the aggressive characters in Sauvignon blanc then this variety may be the drink for you. Legend has it that the variety was introduced, along with Syrah, to the Rhone Valley during the Roman occupation.

After two millennia of barbarian invasions, dark ages, wars and the ravages of time just a few hectares of Viognier were left by the 1960s. It occupied a small corner of the Rhone around Condrieu where it made cult wines known only to a small group of enthusiasts. But the word got out and thanks to modern viticultural techniques Viognier is now widely planted Languedoc and Ardeche in France as well as in Italy, California and Australia.

Viognier’s future in the Rhone is now assured. The wines made from the variety are at their best rich and sensual, in a word voluptuous. Many plantings are still really only in their experimental phase. It may take a couple of decades to see the best. In the meantime there may be some disappointments and variation from year to year. There just isn’t enough knowledge and experience around yet for there to be consistent results from vineyard practices and winemaking technique.

The ripening of the process of the grapes is regarded as idiosyncratic in this variety. The fruit flavours seem to arrive in a rush at the end of ripening, so patience and a strong nerve is required to avoid picking too early. It is therefore quite likely that there will be strong variation from vintage to vintage.

Viognier is increasingly popular as the white partner in copigmentation with Shiraz. Only a small proportion of the white grapes is used. One Shiraz winemaker from Heathcote district in Central Victoria reckons that just two percent of Viognier is the optimum amount for his Shiraz. Other makers are using between five and fifteen percent.

The flavour of varietal white wines made from Viognier are often described using comparisons with the aromas of flowers, peaches and stone fruits and spices.

Viognier wine is best enjoyed with food, and these dry white wines are robust enough to be paired with quite aromatic or mildly spiced dishes. There are some other food pairing ideas in the Albarino to Zinfandel Food Pairing recipe collection.

Viognier wines will probably age well, but they are very good young so why wait?

Australian wineries using Viognier include:

Alan and Veitch Adelaide Hills
Albert River Queensland Coastal
Aldinga Bay McLaren Vale
Alkoomi Frankland River
Allusion Wines Southern Fleurieu
Amulet Vineyard
Beechworth
Anderson Winery Rutherglen
Andrew Peace Wines Swan Hill
Angas Vineyards Langhorne Creek
Angullong Wines Orange
Arakoon McLaren Vale
Arundel Sunbury
Badgers Brook Yarra Valley Yarra Valley
Bago Vineyards Hastings River
Ballandeen Estate Granite Belt
Bartagunyah Estate Southern Flinders Region
Barton Estate Canberra
Barwick Wines Margaret River
Battely Wines Beechworth
Battunga Vineyards Adelaide Hills
Beelgara Estate Riverina
Belgravia Vineyards Orange
Bellarine Estate Geelong
Berton Vineyards Riverina
Bimbadgen Estate Hunter Valley
Biscay Wines Barossa Valley
Blamires Butterfly Crossing Bendigo
Blue Poles Vineyard Margaret River
Boireann Granite Belt
Boyntons Feathertop Alpine Valleys
Brindabella Hills Canberra
Brokenwood Wines Hunter Valley
Brown Brothers King Valley
By Farr Geelong
Calais Estate
Hunter Valley
Campbells Wines Rutherglen
Cape Mentelle Margaret River
Capel Vale Geographe
Carilley Estate Swan Valley
Carlaminda Estate Geographe
Casella Riverina
Castagna Vineyard Beechworth
Ceres Bridge Estate Geelong
Chain of Ponds Adelaide Hills
Chalice Bridge Estate Margaret River
Charlies Estate Wines Swan Valley
Chateau Mildura Murray Darling
Ciavarella King Valley
Circo V King Valley
Claymore Wines Clare Valley
Clonakilla Canberra
Cobaw Ridge Macedon Ranges
Cow Hill Beechworth
Craneford Barossa Valley
Creed of Barossa Barossa Valley
Currans Family Wines Murray Darling
Cypress Post Granite Belt
D’Arenberg McLaren Vale
Darling Park Mornington Peninsula
David Hook Wines Hunter Valley
De Beaurepaire Wines Mudgee
de Mestre Wines Mudgee
Deakin Estate Murray Darling
Diamond Valley Vineyards Yarra Valley
Djinta Djinta Gippsland
DogRidge McLaren Vale
Domain Day Barossa Valley
Dos Rios Swan Hill
Dyson Wines McLaren Vale
Eden Hall Eden Valley
Elgee Park Mornington Peninsula
Evans Family Wines Hunter Valley
Farrell Estate Murray Darling
First Creek Hunter Valley
Flying Duck Estate King Valley
Fonty’s Pool Vineyards Pemberton
Fox Gordon Barossa Valley
Francois Jacquard Perth Hills
Frankland Estate Frankland River
Freeman Vineyards Hilltops
Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale
Ghost Riders Vineyard Hunter Valley
Giant Steps Yarra Valley
Grant Burge Barossa Valley
Gregory’s Wines The Peninsulas
Grove Estate Wines Hilltops
Gundowringla Wines Alpine Valleys
Haan Barossa Valley
Hamiltons Bluff Cowra
Happs Margaret River
Harris River Estate Geographe
Haselgrove McLaren Vale
Hastwell and Lightfoot McLaren Vale
Haywards of Locksley Strathbogie Ranges
Heafod Glen Winery Swan Valley
Heartland Vineyard Hunter Valley
Heartland Wines Limestone Coast
Heathcote Winery Heathcote
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley
Heidenriech Estate Barossa Valley
Helen’s Hill Estate Yarra Valley
Henschke Eden Valley
Hently Farm Wines Barossa Valley
Higlander wines Orange
Hotham Ridge Winery Central Western Australian Zone
House of Certain Views Hunter Valley
Hugh Hamilton McLaren Vale
Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley
Izway Wines Barossa Valley
Jarrah Ridge Winery Central Western Australian Zone
Jeir Creek Canberra
Jimbour Wines Queensland Zone
Kalleske Wines Barossa Valley
Kamberra Canberra
Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale
Kay Bros Amery McLaren Vale
Keith Tulloch Wine Hunter Valley
Kilikanoon Clare Valley
King River Estate King Valley
Kingston Estate Riverland
Kirwans Bridge Wines Nagambie Lakes
Koltz McLaren Vale
Kouark Gippsland
Ladbroke Grove Coonawarra
Lady Bay Winery Southern Fleurieu
LadyBay Vineyard Southern Fleurieu
Langanook Wines Bendigo
Langmeil Barossa Valley
Lanzthomson Wines Barossa Valley
Lark Hill Winery Canberra
Lashmar Kangaroo Island
Lerida Estate Canberra
Lethbridge Wines Geelong
Lillian Pemberton
Linda Domas Wines McLaren Vale
Lindenton Wines Heathcote
Little’s Winery Hunter Valley
Little River Wines Swan Valley
Little Wine Company Hunter Valley
Logan Wines Mudgee
Longview Vineyard Adelaide Hills
Louee Wines Mudgee
M. Chapoutier Australia Mount Benson
Margan Family Hunter Valley
Mary Byrnes Wines Granite Belt
mas serrat Yarra Valley
Mason Wines Granite Belt
Maxwell Wines McLaren Vale
McHenry Hohnen Margaret River
McIvor Creek Heathcote
McKellar Ridge Canberra
McPherson Wines Nagambie Lakes
Meera Park Hunter Valley
Merum Pemberton
Metier Wines Yarra Valley
Millbrook Winery Perth Hills
Mitchelton Nagambie Lakes
Mount Appallan Vineyards South Burnett
Mount Buffalo Vineyard Alpine Valleys
Mount Burrumboot Estate Heathcote
Mount Camel Ridge Estate Heathcote
Mount Cole Wineworks Grampians
Mount Surmon Clare Valley
Mount Trio Vineyard Porongurup
Mr Riggs Wine Company McLaren Vale
Mulyan Cowra
Munari Heathcote
Mundoonen Canberra
Murray Darling Collection Murray Darling
Murray Street Vineyard Barossa Valley
Myrtle Vale Vineyard Upper Goulburn
Nalbra Estate Geelong
Neqtar Wines Murray Darling
Noorilim Estate Goulburn Valley
Normanby Wines Queensland Zone
Nursery Ridge Murray Darling
Oakover Estate Swan Valley
Oatley Wines Mudgee
Orange Mountain Orange
Organic Vignerons Australia Riverland
Paracombe Wines Adelaide Hills
Parri Estate Southern Fleurieu
Patterson Lakes Estate Port Phillip Zone
Peacetree Estate Margaret River
Peerick Vineyard Pyrenees
Pelican’s Landing Maritime Wines Southern Fleurieu
Penny’s Hill McLaren Vale
Pennyfield Wines Riverland
Pepper Tree Wines Hunter Valley
Pepperilly Estate Wines Geographe
Petaluma Adelaide Hills
Petersons Glenesk Estate Mudgee
Pettavel Geelong
Philip Shaw Orange
Phoenix Estate Clare Valley
Pikes Clare Valley
Pinnacle Wines Orange
Plan B Margaret River
Plunkett Wines Strathbogie Ranges
Poachers Ridge Vineyards Mount Barker
Pondalowie Bendigo
Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale
Pothana Hunter Valley
Prince of Orange Orange
Printhie Wines Orange
Purple Hen Wines Gippsland
Pyren Vineyard Pyrenees
Ralph Fowler Wines Mount Benson
Ravensworth Wines Canberra
Redbank Victoria King Valley
Rees Miller Estate Upper Goulburn
Ridgemill Estate Granite Belt
Ridgeview Wines Hunter Valley
Riverbank Estate Swan Valley
Robert Johnson Vineyards Eden Valley
Roberts Estate Murray Darling
Rocky Passes Wines Upper Goulburn
Romavilla Roma
Roundstone Winery Yarra Valley
Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen
Salisbury Winery Murray Darling
Sanguine Estate Heathcote
Scion Vineyard Rutherglen
Seven Ochres Vineyard Margaret River
Sevenhill Wines Clare Valley
Shadowfax Vineyard and Winery Geelong
Shelmerdine Heathcote
Sieber Road Wines Barossa Valley
Sirromet Queensland Coastal
Smidge Wines Langhorne Creek
Snobs Creek Wines Upper Goulburn
Solstice Mount Torrens Vineyards Adelaide Hills
Southern Highland Wines Southern Highlands
Spence’s Vineyard Geelong
Spinifex Barossa Valley
Spoehr Creek Wines Adelaide Hills
SpringLane Yarra Valley
St Leonards Rutherglen
Stella Bella Margaret River
Sticks Yarra Valley
Stone Ridge Granite Belt
Stonehaven Padthaway
Stuart Wines Heathcote
Sugarloaf Ridge Southern Tasmania
Sutton Grange Winery Bendigo
Swings & Roundabouts Margaret River
Symphonia King Valley
Symphony Hill Wines Granite Belt
Syrahmi Heathcote
T’Gallant Mornington Peninsula
Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes
Tall Poppy Murray Darling
Tallarook Wines Upper Goulburn
Tallis Wine Company Goulburn Valley
Taltarni Pyrenees
Tamar Ridge Northern Tasmania
Tandou Riverland
Tanglewood Vines Blackwood Valley
Tapestry McLaren Vale
Tatachilla McLaren Vale
Tawonga Vineyard Alpine Valleys
Temple Bruer Langhorne Creek
Terra Felix Upper Goulburn
The Islander Estate Vineyards Kangaroo Island
The Lane Adelaide Hills
The Ritual Peel
The Standish Wine Company Barossa Valley
Three Moon Creek Queensland Zone
Torbreck Vintners Barossa Valley
Trentham Estate Murray Darling
Turners Crossing Vineyard Bendigo
Veritas Barossa Valley
Vinea Marson Heathcote
Vintara Rutherglen
Violet Cane Vineyard Granite Belt
Wallington Wines Cowra
Wandoo Farm Central Western Australian Zone
Wanted Man Heathcote
Waratah Vineyard Queensland Zone
Watershed Wines Margaret River
Wedgetail Ridge Estate Darling Downs
West Cape Howe Wines Denmark
Westend Estate Riverina
Western Range Wines Perth Hills
Westgate Vineyard Grampians
Whale Coast Wines Southern Fleurieu
Whistling Eagle Wines Heathcote
Whitsend Estate Yarra Valley
Wills Domain Vineyard Margaret River
Willunga 100 Wines McLaren Vale
Winbirra Vineyard Mornington Peninsula
Winewood Granite Belt
Wirra Wirra McLaren Vale
Wombats Run King Valley
Wovenfield Geographe
Yalumba Wine Company Barossa Valley
Yarra Yarra Yarra Valley
Yarra Yering Yarra Valley
Yarraloch Yarra Valley
Yengari Wine Company Beechworth
Yering Station Yarra Valley
Zilzie Wines Murray Darling
Zonte’s Footstep Langhorne Creek

Source: http://www.vinodiversity.com/viognier.html

Chenin Blanc | White Wines

February 20th, 2008


Chenin Blanc | White WinesChenin blanc, or Pineau de la Loire, is a variety of white wine grape from the Loire valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines, although it can produce very bland, neutral wines if the vine’s natural vigour is not controlled. Outside the Loire it is found in most of the New World wine regions; it is the most widely planted variety in South Africa, where it is known as Steen.

Description
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Chenin blanc (or simply Chenin) is a particularly versatile grape that is used to make dry white wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines and brandy. It provides a fairly neutral palate for the expression of terroir, vintage variation and the winemaker’s treatment.

In cool areas the juice is sweet but high in acid with a full-bodied fruity varietal palate. In the unreliable summers of northern France, the acidity of underripe grapes was often masked with chaptalization with unsatisfactory results, whereas now the less ripe grapes are made into popular sparkling wines such as Crémant de Loire. The white wines of Anjou are perhaps the best expression of Chenin as a dry wine, with flavours of quince and apples. In nearby Vouvray they aim for an off-dry style, developing honey and floral characteristics with age. In the best vintages the grapes can be left on the vines to develop noble rot, producing an intense, viscous dessert wine which will improve considerably with age.

In the Loire, yields are tightly controlled - even basic Anjou Blanc is restricted to 45hl/ha. However yields of three times that can be achieved in the New World and the results are generally everyday wines that “are dull compared to the Loire wines”. As ever there are exceptions to this rule, particularly in South Africa.

History
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Chenin Blanc probably originated as a mutant of the Pineau d’Aunis (Chenin Noir) in Anjou, where there are records of it in the ninth century. It then migrated to the Loire valley and later the Rhône. Rabelais (1494–1553) was clearly keen on the white wines of Anjou, and mentions the medicinal qualities of the grapes at the end of chapter XXV of Gargantua :

This done, the shepherds and shepherdesses made merry with these cakes and fine grapes, and sported themselves together at the sound of the pretty small pipe, scoffing and laughing at those vainglorious cake-bakers, who had that day met with a mischief for want of crossing themselves with a good hand in the morning. Nor did they forget to apply to Forgier’s leg some fat chenin grapes, and so handsomely dressed it and bound it up that he was quickly cured.

The grape may have been one of the first to be grown in South Africa by Jan Van Riebeeck in 1655, or it may have come to that country with Huguenots fleeing France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It became known as Steen, and it was only in 1965 that Steen was recognised as being the same as Chenin Blanc.

Chenin Blanc was often misidentified in Australia as well, so tracing its early history in the country is not easy. It may have been introduced in the Busby collection of 1832, but C. Waterhouse was growing Steen at Highercombe in South Australia by 1862.

A sparkling Vouvray made from Chenin blanc.

Regions
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The grape is known as Pinot Blanco in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina, although it is not related to Pinot Blanc. There are over 4000ha (10,000 acres (40 km²)) of Chenin blanc in Argentina, and 200ha (500 acres (2 km²)) in New Zealand.

Australia

Most Australian Chenin Blancs are crisp dry wines, often blended with other varieties and often given a little oak. Most of the 6000 hectares (1,500 acres (6 km²)) are in South Australia, but some is planted in Western Australia.

France

The versatility of Chenin Blanc is most obvious in Anjou and Touraine. Just within Vouvray, it makes dry-ish wines, demi-secs, sweet and sparkling. Perhaps the most famous wines made from Chenin Blanc are the botrytized dessert wines of the Coteaux de la Loire such as Savennières (most notably La-Roche-aux-Moines and Coulée de Serrant), and to the south Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume. These can be some of the most long-lived of all white wines, and include some of the most expensive wines in France.

The dry wines of Anjou show a different side to the grape, with an intense palate of appley acidity, and this dry acidity is even more obvious in Crémant de Loire and the sparkling wines of Saumur. It is usually presented as a single varietal, although up to 20 percent Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc can be added.

Chenin blanc is a minor component of the Languedoc region’s ancient sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux. A greater percentage is allowed in the less ‘authentic’ Crémant de Limoux.

South Africa

Despite “Steen” being the most widely-grown grape in South Africa, the area has dropped by a third in recent years. The 19,100 hectares in 2005 represented 18.8% cent of the country’s vines, down from 28.7% in 1998. It is partly a victim of fashion swinging towards red wine, but its reputation has suffered from the industrial wines produced during the apartheid years. In the 1960s SFW’s semi-sweet Chenin Blanc was the biggest-selling bottled wine in the world. However some producers focus on quality rather than quantity, following in the footsteps of pioneers such as Johann Graue of Nederburg.

USA

Chenin is the third most planted grape in California, but is mostly used to contribute acidity in jug wine blends. Such wines became massively popular in the 1970s, so companies such as Charles Krug were able to use rationing of the white wines as a tool for selling the less popular reds. However since the 1980s plantings of Chenin Blanc have declined in favour of the more fashionable Chardonnay. As in South Africa, the reputation of the bulk wines has hindered the development of quality Loire-style wines from controlled yields in cooler climates.

Viticulture
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Chenin Grapes | White WinesDespite coming from Anjou, Chenin does well in warm climates that are usually too warm for many vinifera types. In fact the main problem in the New World is controlling the vines’ natural vigour. It is not fussy about soil type, and it is resistant to the common vine diseases. However the tight clusters are prone to bunch rot in damp conditions, and the thin-skinned grapes are vulnerable to sunburn.

The vine is semi-upright in habit with 3-5 lobed leaves. It tends to break bud early, and the conical, winged bunches contain yellow-green grapes that ripen late. The berries are typically 16.0 mm long x 14.2 mm wide, with an average weight of 1.79g.

Synonyms
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Anjou, Blanc d’Aunis, Capbreton Blanc (Landes, France), Confort, Coue Fort, Cruchinet (SW France), Cugnette, Feher Chenin, Franc Blanc, Franche, Gout Fort, Luarskoe, Pineau d’Anjou, Pineau de Briollay, Pineau de la Loire, Pineau de Savennières, Pineau Gros, Pineau Gros de Vouvray, Pineau Nantais, Plant de Brézé (archaic, now more often applied to Romorantin), Plant de Salces, Plant de Salles, Plant du Clair de Lune, Quefort, Rajoulin, Rouchalin, Rougelin, Steen (South Africa), Stein, Tête de Crabe, Vaalblaar Stein, Verdurant, Blanc d’Anjou, Gros Chenin, Gros Pinot Blanc de la Loire, Plant d’Anjou and Gamet blanc (Aveyron, France).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenin_Blanc

White Wines

February 18th, 2008

White wine differs from red wine in, first and most obviously, color. Under that skin, the pulpy part of a white grape is the same color as that of a red grape. The skin dictates the end color for red wine, which differs from the white’s color determinates.

This is mainly due to the pressing of the grapes. When white grapes are picked, they are immediately pressed and the juice is removed from the skins with little contact.

Color in white wine does vary, often from the type of grape, occasionally from the use of wood. Listed below are a few of the most common white varieties in the world wine market and of wine.com. They are listed from lighter bodied, and lighter colored, to fuller bodied with deeper colors. The list is not set in stone – winemaker’s decisions and climate may affect the end result of a white wine’s body and color – we just give you the guidelines.

Grapes/Region Where primarily grown
Champagne Champagne, France
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris Alsace, France; Italy; Oregon; California
Sauvignon Blanc Loire, France; New Zealand; California; South Africa
Chenin Blanc Loire, France; South Africa
Riesling Germany; Alsace, France; Australia; New Zealand; Washington State; California
Chardonnay Burgundy, France; Australia; California; South America; South Africa; Oregon
Viognier Rhone, France; California



Other white grapes to notice, listed alphabetically:

Grapes Where they grow best
Albariño Spain
Gewurztraminer Alsace, France; Germany
Sémillon Bordeaux, France; Australia



Source: Wine

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