Wine of the Month: Viognier

The origins of this grape are ancient, but it is believed that Viognier originated in Dalmatia (present-day Croatia) and was brought to France by the Romans. Today you can buy Viognier from the Rhône Valley under the name Condrieu, although only 30 000 or cases are produced annually. Today, much more Viognier is grown in California, Australia and South America.

Viognier grapes make for an excellent varietal wine. It is typically heavy and full-bodied like a Chardonnay, but more lush, softer with low-to-medium acidity, and delightfully aromatic. On the nose are notes of peaches, pears, and a variety of tropical notes including pineapple, mango, tangerine and lemon. Tasting characteristics include a prominent floral component and a creamy mouthfeel of pineapple, apricot, peach, mango and so on. Old World Viognier tend to be more floral, whereas New World examples tend to emphasize the fruity character of the wine.

Viognier also makes for excellent blending. In France and Australia it is often co-fermented with Syrah/Shiraz to make a rich, flavourful, heavy red wine with balanced floral notes. Australian Shiraz Viognier is real treat! When it is available as a wine kit, it is a crowd favourite.

For us winemakers, Viognier is great as a very heavy and flavourful wine that red wine drinkers will also appreciate. It tends to drink well young, which is great when you don’t feel like waiting!

Viognier is typically dry, although off-dry and sweeter examples do exist. You can even get Viognier dessert wine! Most Viognier are great without food, but they pair well with brie and other creamy cheeses. It’s one of the few wines that pairs excellently with spicy foods, so consider it the next time you have Thai take-out.

Here are some commercial examples to try:

Cline Cellars Viognier – Sonoma, California. A great modern example with a touch of acidity for that clean, crisp finish.

Chateau Routas Viognier – Var, France. This Viognier has 15% Chardonnay blended in. It’s a little softer and lower alcohol than its New-World counterparts, and has a delightful complexity.

There are a wide variety of Viognier wine kits available to be made as well.

En Primeur Winery Series Italian Viognier. Opens with a dramatic and intense floral bouquet enhanced by aromas of apricots and peach.  Lush peach and honeysuckle on the palate balances a crisp acidity.

Cellar Craft Showcase Yakima Valley Viognier. An amazing, full-bodied, aromatic wine with a creamy mouth-feel. Unbelievable aromas and flavours of apricot, mango, pineapple, guava, kiwi, tangerine, orange blossom and spiced pear absolutely dazzle the senses. Full, off-dry, lingering finish.

Selection Californian Viognier. The intense fruitiness of this beguiling wine suggests rich sweetness, but it shows a surprisingly dry and aromatic finish. A delicate yellow colour, tinged with the variety’s typical ‘green-gold’ hue, it bursts out of the glass with apricot, peach and spice aromas. As it matures, it can also display hints of jasmine, honeysuckle, kiwi, mint, orange blossom, and mango.

Click here to explore our full selection of Viognier wines.

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Aging wine is easy!

We all hate thinking about Christmas in July, but with home wine and beer making you always have to think a season or two ahead.  If you make wine at home, you know that the number of carboys available to you dictates how much wine you can make.  Hopefully you’ve made all the wine you need for summer.  Fill your carboys and let the wine sit in them until summer is over and you’ve settled into your fall routine.  You’ll have aged wine for the holidays.  If anything, you’ll have wine at the end of summer and not run out!

If you make wine with us in our Wine Room, getting your wines down this summer means that you also have nothing to worry about.  An 8-week red can be fermenting and clearing and you won’t hear from us until end of August or first of September!


THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Wine popsicles?

Have you seen this latest craze? We’ve seen wine frozen in ice cube trays so that you can keep you wine cold and not dilute it, but popsicles? Here is your recipe for “grown up” summer fun!


Make a simple syrup of 1/3 sugar and 1/3 water. Mix and boil. Cool.
Add the simple syrup to 2 cups of your favourite Island Mist, Orchard Breezin’ or Niagara Mist wine.
Add fruit to a popsicle maker and pour in your wine mixture. Freeze and enjoy!

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Weddings and family get-togethers

It is the time of year where many of us are planning events for the summer (we have a couple of events of our own this year)!  Proudly serving your own wine and beer makes sense (and saves a little cash!).  We hate to rain on your parade, but please know that in Nova Scotia you cannot get any type of liquor license for wine or beer made at home or even in our store.  You may not be able to serve your wine and beer in a venue that requires a license, but there are other places where it would be possible, like the rehearsal party at your home or the gift opening.  Just an FYI.

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Make wine while you still have some heat on!

Temperature is very important when making wine and beer.  Shoulder seasons like spring and fall can make your batch behave a little strangely when the temperature goes up and down all the time.  The ideal temperature for brewing wine kits is 73’F or 22’C.  Having trouble keeping this temperature?  Consider these tips:

  • Use a stick on thermometer. Digital thermometers that stick on the side of your buckets and carboys make it easy to watch temperature fluctuations.  Remember that you have a large volume of liquid, the temperature of 23 L takes a long time to change.
  • Use a heat belt. A heat belt will give you 7’F or 4’C more heat than your room when used on the bottom of the bucket or carboy.

Most of all, don’t worry.  Do the best that you can with the situation you have at home.  Remember to always use your hydrometer to make sure your wine is done fermenting before continuing to next steps.  Wines may take a little longer to ferment and clear than they did in the winter, but that’s alright.

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Why pay more for a wine kit?

Every brand of wine kit offers basic grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Why the differences in brands? The larger the box, the better quality the juice is, and the closer to the true varietal style the wine will be. For example, a Vintners Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is good. A Grand Cru Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is better because it has 2 more litres of juice and dried grape skins for added flavour. Also the fact that it is from Australia gives you more information about this wine. An Eclipse Lodi Ranch 11 Cabernet Sauvignon in an 18 L kit (2 L of grape skins) which tells you that the grapes are grown on Ranch 11 in Lodi, California. If you go there you would see that the vineyard is right next to Robert Mondavi’s vineyard where some very nice Cabernet Sauvignon is grown. Choice in box size (read quality) gives you choice of a wine kit pleasing to your palate and that can stand up to your expectations.

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – How do I still have wine made when I’m away?

We can make wine for you when you are away and have it ready when you get back. By provincial and federal rules, we need to have a signature on the brew on premise agreement form and to have you pitch the yeast in your wine on day of purchase.So, you can have your wine put down before you leave (yes, we’ll hold it while you are gone) or have a friend/family member come in to do it for you. You can bottle it when you get back.

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Planning your Christmas party!

What a great season to get together with friends, family and neighbours! Food and wine are definitely a big part of the season and can be a lot of fun. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Offer a variety of wines to choose from. An easy way is to offer a red, white and rose. Consider maybe a dry white, an off-dry white, a light red and a heavier red. Choosing food is easy too – Google it! Look at the wine you have at home and find a simple pairing. We mean simple! Plain potato chips with Muscat. Meatballs and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir and chocolate…heck, any red wine and chocolate. First and foremost – enjoy yourself and raise a glass to a great hobby!

THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY – Your wine as Christmas gifts!

Wine is a great holiday gift! Cookies are great too, but you need something to wash them down… Did you know that there are 375 mL bottles? These are half the volume of a regular wine bottle. You could give one red and one white and still only be giving 1 bottle of wine away! But hey, put in a can of cookies too! Remember that you can also bag your wine. If you’re the party host/hostess this year, cut down on opening bottles and have your wine in bags. Choose from 3L, 5L, or 7.5L. A great option.