Repeat after me: Vee-ohn-eeayay. Viognier.

I like Chardonnay. A really good Chardonnay. I mean a really, really good Chardonnay. And we have some amazing Chardonnay in the works for you guys- from Burgundy, Spain etc. But in the interest of discovering new wines, I would say there are some tasty alternatives to Chardonnay out there. We have the Rolle from Chateau des Sarrins which some of you tried and raved about. But today, I want to focus on the other white in our current portfolio, the Viognier from Remy Passot.

Viognier was pretty unknown in our parts until the last few years when it really starting making the rounds in the socialite circles. It became the Chardonnay alternative. If you were tired of drinking the fat, syrupy (cheap?) Chardonnays in the market, Viognier became the alternative. By the way, it is pronounced “Vee-ohn-eeyay”. Viognier is also grown in California. Tablas Creek in Paso Robles makes some good juice. So does our friends Jonathan  and Susan Lachs of Cedarville  in the Sierra Foothills. You should try them.  But this grape has been around for a long time and is in fact one of the predominant white grape of the Rhone valley in France. It is in Northern Rhone near the town of Condrieu that Viognier achieves great heights. The appellation of Condrieu is a thin sliver of land that hugs the Rhone river for a few miles. Needless to say there isn’t much to go around. So, the economics of supply and demand makes this a pretty pricey wine. There are some excellent Viogniers from these parts, notably Georges Vernay and Chateau Grillet. That does not mean Condrieu is the only place where Viognier thrives.

Smart and resourceful vignerons figured out that Viognier grows quite well in the areas surrounding Condrieu extending down into the Rhone, a little east into the Jura and also a little north into Beaujolais country! These areas were given special designations and are now called IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) Comtes Rhodaniens.

Say that 10 times – Indication Géographique Protégée Comtes Rhodaniens, Indication Géographique Protégée Comtes Rhodaniens, Indication Géographique Protégée Comtes never mind..!!

Remy Passot is a brilliant winegrower and it didn’t take him long to find a property in this IGP. Viognier happens to be Remy’s wife Dominique’s favorite white wine. This is a pretty young vineyard and the wines are joyful and delicious. Like young Viognier, there is peach, mangoes and other tropical aromas in this wine. They are meant to be drunk young maybe within 3 years of vintage. He doesn’t make a lot of it and so I grabbed all I could lay my hands on. So should you.

Bottle of Domaine Passot ViognierDo you have a favorite Thai or an Indian restaurant? Rent a copy of Kung Fu Hustle. Get a takeout of a Panang curry or grilled Tandoori chicken and wash it down with Dominique and Remy Passot’s delicious Viognier. Can you think of a better evening?

Find this wine and other wines from Dominique and Remy Passot at your local fine wine store or here.

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