According to the latest scientific research, Viognier’s origins are in the wild vines of the northern parts of Côtes-du-Rhône in France. Some people believe that the vine originally was brought to France by the Roman Emperor Probus from the Dalmatia region where it is now cultivated under the name Vugava bijela. In 2004 DNA profiling shown the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin of Nebbiolo.
In France, Viognier as a single varietal is used for example, to make wines in the neighbouring appelations of Condrieu and Château-Grillet, a rare wine much sought by enthusiasts. Since the 1990s, it has also been enjoyed in southern France, both to complement other varieties and on its own in varietal wines.
Viognier is also grown in Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland and Austria. But it has met with most success outside of Europe: it is one of the main white varieties in America, primarily in California, and also in Australia.
Viognier is quite a difficult grape to grow mostly because of fungal deceases. It has low and unpredictable yields and should be picked only when fully ripe. Because of its varietal characteristics, in favourable conditions it allows the making of great quality wines that are highly aromatic (with notes of apricot and peach, among others), complex and powerful.
In Italy the variety is mostly used for complementing other varieties in white blends. On the Tuscan coast the same logic is used, with blends it can often impart a very rich aroma, color and a slight complexity in general.
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