Viognier is a wee bit like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. Its peachy flavours and its waxy feeling in your mouth don’t suit everyone, but I’m a huge fan of this under-rated white grape.
The variety’s spiritual home is in the village of Condrieu in the Rhone Valley in the South of France, but Viognier has undergone something of a renaissance over the past few years and it’s now springing up around the world, from Australia all the way through to California.
I first tried Viognier down at Turnberry a few years ago and I was absolutely smitten, so I was really excited when one of the bottles I was asked to review from the Valhalla’s Goat bottle shop on Great Western Road in Glasgow was the Yves Cuilleron Viognier.
It was just perfect – really peachy flavours but with plenty of acidity to balance the fruit and leave you with a refreshing taste in your mouth. The wine is organic and comes from the Rhone Valley, although it’s labelled as “Collines Rhodaniennes”, which means it’s one of the French wine regions, rather than from a specific appellation.
I first fell in love with white wines about 25 years ago when we were living in Horsham in West Sussex, down on the south coast of England. We used to take the ferry over to France and would spend days exploring the countryside – and the wine too.
As well as Viognier, I developed a taste for Champagne and so I’m really looking forward to cracking open a bottle of Cristal on Hogmanay to celebrate my 50th birthday. It was a special gift and I can’t wait to enjoy it.
My other confession is my love of dessert wine. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but if I could choose my last meal on Earth then it would be sitting on a boat on the West Coast drinking a sweet wine made from botrytised grapes along with a piece of gorgonzola cheese from I J Mellis the cheesemonger. Bliss.
While I’ve had a long-running love affair with white wine, it’s only in the past few years that I’ve really started enjoying reds. The staff at Valhalla’s Goat told me that – as you get older – you start to lose some of your bitter taste buds and so you start to enjoy different flavours, like olives and red wines.
I used to find red wines too tannic – the tannin would make me suck in my cheeks like a really strong cup of tea and leave a very dry sensation in my mouth. But the bottle of Perez Cruz Cot from Chile didn’t do that – the tannins were very soft.
It was really smooth and deep and rich – my husband jokes that I’m “only a baby” when it comes to red wines and so he made sure he enjoyed the lion’s share of the bottle. But even my beginner’s palate could tell that this wine was a lot more approachable than many dry reds.
Cot comes from the South of France and is now better known as Malbec, which has become incredibly popular in Argentina and, it turns out, is making a splash across the border in Chile too. It’s a great match for steak and its softer tannins appeal to a lot of people who find traditional varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz just too tannic.
Lynne Cadenhead is chief executive at Bio ID Security and chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland. Thank you to Valhalla’s Goat, 449 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G12 8HH, 0141 337 3441, for providing the Yves Cuilleron Viognier 2014 (£18) and the Perez Cruz Cot Limited Edition 2013 (£18).