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Home Winners > Winners 2013 > NEW WORLD: Viognier

Winner Details

New World: Viognier


At last we found some wines that managed to merge tartiness with elegance in just the right proportion to take the grape’s first ever places on the Gold List

We’ve described Viognier on these pages in the past as being a failed middle-aged musician of a grape variety; one that was expected to make it big 20 years ago, but that somehow ended up playing on cruise ships.

Well, perhaps this was the year it finally got a record deal. Four medals overall is not exactly spectacular, but that two of them were Golds is a real breakthrough – the first time since SWA started in 2007 that we’ve ever given places on the Gold List to a New World effort with this grape.

Problems in the past have been everything from ‘too sweet and gloopy’ and ‘too much oak’, to ‘too restrained’. Certainly the past few years have seen our tasters musing that, in the winemakers’ laudable quest for elegance, a certain amount of Viognier’s ‘viognierness’ had been lost, leaving our tasters with a kind of diet version of this plumpest of grapes.

‘I want Viognier to be just the right side of slutty,’ leered team leader Peter McCombie MW, ‘and cheap Viognier often delivers too much slutty without much else.’

Hearteningly, some of this year’s versions turned out to be authentically tarty rather than plump-fruited teases who pouted seductively but then disappeared on the palate and went home alone like good little girls.

Our tasters enjoyed the exuberance of the medal winners, but also, in the aromatic Spee’wah and the complex, spicy, Gnarly Head, found real balance and elegance – at good prices too. There weren’t many categories this year where all the Gold-listed wines were under £10.

‘If it’s too alcoholic, too floral and creamy, it may be fine for a glass but becomes too much through a bottle,’ said Bo London’s Cedric Beaumond. ‘We want some restraint and crispness to the wine along with good varietal expression.’


‘People want to love Viognier, it’s the sort of Marilyn Monroe of the wine world.’
Jenny Mackenzie, The Plough Inn