LET me tell you about a wine called Veronica. Well, actually, it’s not called Veronica at all. It’s called viognier.
It’s Veronica because I bought my workpal a glass and a few days later, trying to remember the name, she plumped for Veronica. We giggled. So now I ask “do you want a glass of Veronica”? “Yes, please,” says my workpal. “Only one though.” (Yeh, right.)
Once I asked for viognier and the bar didn’t have any. So I went for albarino and that was a hit with my pal too. But that’s another tale.
So. Veronica / Viognier. I love it. The premium whites come from its heartland in the northern Rhône. Look out for Condrieu and Château-Grillet and be prepared to pay for it. In the same region, viognier is blended with syrah in Côte-Rôtie where it adds a floral lift. Actually, it’s mainly added because enzymes in viognier help to stabilise the wine.
That’s stuff you might not give a hoot about. What is interesting (well, I think so) is that in the 70s viognier was close to extinction.
Thanks to some enthusiastic winemakers it was lifted to a new level, and is now planted in many parts of the New World as well as its native France.
Apricot, peaches, spice, and a silky mouthfeel are the signatures of Veronica. Sorry, viognier. Here’s a small selection.
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Pays d’Oc Viognier 2013, (£8.99). This French wine has just won bronze at the International Wine Challenge 2014. It is a lovely balance of fragrant, elegant, creamy apricot. My favourite description is from IWC judges who describe it as “cuddly and succulent”.
Now to South Africa (the Western Cape) and Hope Springs Viognier 2013 (£8.99, www.virginwines.co.uk). This was my Eurovision wine, not very Euro I know, but even so. There was peach, but lemon too. A bit friskier and tighter than the other viogniers I tried. It had the fruity depth to match our tra-la-la shoo-wop TV dinner of Thai green chicken curry.
Guigal Cotes du Rhône Blanc 2012 (from £11.99 at vintagemarque.com, Amps Fine Wines, Noble Green Wines). This is a five-grape blend with viognier leading the way at 70%. There’s rounded peaches, silk-like and tactile as some touch-me plump fruits in a grocers; but it has crispness, lift and perfume from other grapes which include rousanne and marsanne.
Also in my glass…
…. well the football season has finished. I’m very giddy. My team has been promoted. Burnley that is. Up the Clarets. I celebrated with sparkles as it seemed fitting. The Society’s Cava Reserva Brut (The Wine Society, £8.50) is made in Penedès, the heart of cava country near Barcelona. It uses the traditional cava grapes parellada, macabeu and xarel.lo with a touch of chardonnay. Cava is fab.
This one was fragrant with blossom and apples and on the palate was a soft fizz of apples and a tickly lemon finish. Perfect for summer.
The society has an offer on a six-bottle summer sparklers mixed case, £79 saving £8.95, which ends on June 15 or while stocks last.
First published in the saturday magazine, May 17 2014