A few years ago, Viognier was a rarity. In 1965, only 8 hectares were found almost exclusively in Condrieu in the northern Rhône. Nowadays, this stylish exotically aromatic variety has been noticed, and is spreading across the south of France in Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, as well as in California.
The origins of the name Viognier is not known, although it is often attributed to being associated with the French city of Vienne which was a major Roman outpost. Another legend has it drawing its name from the Roman pronunciation of the via Gehennae meaning the "road to hell" as a possible clue to the grape's difficulties in growing.
Viognier produces an intense, dry white wine, lots of fruit and a flavour mingling apricot, apple, peach and violet with a hint of honey and is best drunk young.
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