But how could you not be?
Many people claim not to drink white wine because it's too acidic/gives them re-flux, heartburn or whatever... (Let's not get into the fact that red-wine also can be highly acidic). If this is you, then do try Viognier. Typically a low-acidity varietal, with bags of aromatic character (think peach, apricot, honeysuckle, white flowers), and with a very full, silky body, this can be a very appealing wine to drink on it's own or with food.
I'm clearly not the only one who thinks so.
Plantings of Viognier are now found in most major wine-producing nations, and they continue to grow in scale. From a grape variety that was almost extinct at the end of the 1960s, being found only in a few hectares of the northern Rhone, it's now a flourishing fashionista, showing up in Virginia as that state's signature white, and can be found from countries as diverse as Brazil and Hungary. It has a really interesting texture, an almost oily viscosity that makes it stand out from many whites.
Even red wine drinkers may be tippling on this. Syrah (Shiraz) can often have around 5% of Viognier blended in to soften, to stabilise colour and perhaps also to add a touch of floral aromatics. The northern Rhone again was origin of this practice, particularly in Cote-Rotie (where it still takes place), but such blends pop up now in South Africa and Australia, among others.
I've drunk a couple of different Viogniers recently, so here's what we thought of them at Chateau Purple Teeth.
First came the Yalumba Organic Viognier 2012
The Eden Valley has a great reputation for another aromatic variety, Riesling, and though this grape is quite different, it seems to be quite at home there. South Australia's Eden Valley borders Barossa, which is famous for Shiraz, so we find traditional Rhone neighbours side by side here too.
Yalumba was founded by a Dorset man, Samuel Smith, a British Brewer, back in in 1849 when he planted the first vines with his son Sidney.
Mr Purple Teeth rated it as "lovely". Watching the world cup, at the time he had to be pushed for more. "Sweet fruitiness, easy to drink, strong flavour, good balance," he claimed. He's getting into this wine speak more and more as I ask for his reviews. "Not heavy - light aperitif style," he added. At 14.5% alcohol, it certainly packs a punch more than many summer whites, though, so don't be fooled by that review. It has a Decanter Bronze Medal for those interested in awards. I'd bought it during the recent 25% discount offer so didn't mind splashing out on a Tuesday night.
We ate with this one, and our "real world food match" was Charlie Bingham Chicken Kiev (stuffed with sun-dried tomato butter) with garlic butter sautéed asparagus, sugar snaps & baby corn with a tiny hint of chili flakes.
There was enough strong flavours in the wine to stand up to this treatment, and the smooth, silky, almost glycerol texture, despite the light acidity, worked well with the buttery elements of the dish.
For me, the flavour of white flowers dominated, but there was also some ripe cantaloupe melon, acacia honey, and, I felt, some uncharacteristic red pears. I enjoyed it, albeit less than Mr Purple Teeth, and given the similar price of the wine, I'd probably favour a bottle from my local merchant, over a supermarket bottle.
But, don't hesitate to experiment with this (currently 33% off 6 at Ocado). It's got plenty of Viognier's trademark character, and might just help convince a red wine drinker that white wine is worth drinking.
Casa Silva Reserva Viognier 2012 was next on my Viognier hit list.
Knowing how much I enjoy Viognier, Jo was keen that I try the latest addition to her wine list, hopeful that I'd love it as much as she does.
Sampling it on a Friday evening while enjoying the last of the summer evening sunshine, it was a great way to round off the week. And, yes, a perfect Friday wine. (I drunk some on Thursday too. Couldn't wait, if the truth be told!)
Deliciously rich, this Chilean example has many of the trademark characters of the grape, particularly a good full body and a delightfully "slippery" viscous mouthfeel. Think liquid silk. Viognier is famous for this effect.
Colchagua Valley (where this wine is made) is one of Chile's best-known zones for the production of premium red wine. They know how to handle their whites too, with 335 hectares of Viognier planted.
Casa Silva is a family owned winery in their 5th generation of producing wine in the Colchagua Valley, just over 100 miles from Santiago. They are also the most-awarded Chilean winery of the 21st century in both national and international competitions. They also have a boutique hotel and restaurant on site if you fancy a visit, some day.
Back to the wine. On the nose and on the palate, there's a little less of the "white flower" and more honeysuckle florals, and perhaps even more zingy tropical fruits like mango & pineapple. Despite the zingy flavours, the acidity is restrained and in balance, making it a gentle and pleasing glassful. 10% is aged in oak, and this helps to add a very subtle gingery spicing.
Mr Purple Teeth thought it made a great aperitif. He enjoyed the freshness, the pineapple flavour, the viscosity and body. He, like me, found it hard to pinpoint the right descriptors for the nose, so we settled for aromatic and appealing.
It's not a sweet wine but it satisfied the urge for an after dinner treat very well, as the perfumed aromas and flavours create a sensation of sweetness.
I'm adding it to my list of recommended wines from Perfect Friday Wine. Readers in Cumbria can pick it up at Stainton wines, though it'll set you back £12.95 there.