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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > NEW WORLD: Viognier

Winner Details

New World: Viognier

2016 Gold: 1 Silver: 3 Bronze: 1 Commended: 2
2015 Gold: 2 Silver: 4 Bronze: 2 Commended: 4

Viognier is rather like a winner of X Factor. For several years everyone swarmed around the variety, fussing over every new country that started planting it and assuring growers that it was totally going to be the Next Big Thing, the grape to take over from Chardonnay. It had modelling contracts, a three-album deal and was rumoured to be starring in a movie alongside Tom Cruise. It was a variety with the world at its feet.

But it never quite delivered on its promise and has spent most of the past 15 years hanging out in bars telling people how it once had a number five hit in Sweden and was the face of Krunchie Pop breakfast cereal for six months.

So its slow renaissance in the Sommelier Wine Awards is heartening. A few years ago, producers seemed to be trying for a ‘fresher, lighter’ style, which didn’t really work – stripping out much of the grape’s Viognier-ness. Now, there are wines that are joyously buxom, but also nicely proportioned – big curves all over, rather than silicon-enhanced on a spindly frame.

Interestingly, no one country seems to be dominating with the grape, either. Our five medal winners here came from four different countries. Let’s hope for a few more contenders next year. It’s a grape that might, finally, be fulfilling its teenage promise.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘Consumers still need to get into it. The best were very well made: creaminess and butteriness, but freshness and stone fruit, too – they ticked all the boxes.’ Luca Campi, Plateau Restaurant

‘It works with food: seafood, fresh salads in summertime, roast chicken on the barbeque. There’s still a lot of difference between Old World and New World Viognier.’ Carlos Ferreira, The Sign of the Don

‘I wasn’t expecting heaviness and richness. Some were more aromatic, some were a bit flabby. The middle price points were the best.’ Rudina Arapi, Galvin at Windows

‘This was quite a strong flight and it mostly showed good varietal typicity. There are more unoaked styles coming through, which have more purity of fruit and it makes them more affordable as well as there’s no cost of oak involved.’ Annette Scarfe MW, team leader

“Viognier works on a wine list, but freshness is the key; and the best ones had that.” James Hocking, The Vineyard Group

“People are a bit scared of Viognier, they don’t know what to expect.” Luca Campi, Plateau Restaurant

Award winners

Found 7 wines

New World: Viognier

Swartland Winery, Limited Release, Viognier 2015, Western Cape, South Africa

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

Elegant and seductive, it was the fleshy, well-rounded nature of Swartland Winery's Viognier as well as its price that won it a Critics' Choice Trophy. While Luca Campi of Plateau Restaurant found 'white and yellow peach, clean, nice acidity', Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don noted: 'Pear and red apple, spice notes, very fresh and balanced with a long finish.'

£8.05 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Bisquertt, La Joya, Gran Reserva, Viognier 2015, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

With James Hocking of The Vineyard Group highlighting its 'clean apricot and peach fruit', Plateau Restaurant's Luca Campi added: 'Great intensity, powerful stone fruit character, brilliant value.'

£5.39 Molson Coors

Bogle, Viognier 2014, Clarksburg, California, USA

Silver medal winner

'Friendly nose with apple, melon and peach notes, some stone fruit on the palate with plenty of freshness and balance,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don. 'Rich, ripe, tropical style,' added team leader Annette Scarfe MW.

£10.20 Enotria&Coe

Accolade Wines, Flagstone, Word of Mouth, Viognier 2013, Western Cape, South Africa

Silver medal winner

'Yellow pear with asparagus and spicy notes, very well balanced with a great steely finish with citrus notes coming through,' said Carlos Ferreira of The Sign of the Don, while Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant commented: 'Almost a hint of petrol, with lighter fruit intensity. Good quality.'

£9.14 Matthew Clark

Garzón, Viognier 2015, Maldonado, Uruguay, Other

Bronze medal winner

'Lovely, pure, clean fruit, with a creamy mid-palate, fresh acidity and complexity,' began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, with Plateau Restaurant's Luca Campi adding: 'Beautifully balanced, very nice length.'

£10.65 Bibendum

Viu Manent , Secret, Viognier 2014, Colchagua Valley , Chile

Commended medal winner

The Spee'wah, Crooked Mick, Viognier 2015, Murray Darling, Australia

Commended medal winner

£7.18 Bibendum

 

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