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A cool white for summer nights? Viognier is your ticket



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Sweet meaty seafood like lobster and prawns are equally well-suited to viognier and Goldstein raves about its affinity with cheese.

So here are some favourite bottles to explore this summer.

If consistency is something you value, the champion entry is the Cono Sur Viognier Limited Release 2009 ($11). This Colchagua-based Chilean white constantly over-delivers for the price, sporting fresh clean fruit with nectarine, honey, grapefruit, ginger and orange flavours throughout. It has a refreshing New World style and the value is crazy.

Across the Andes a competing value is the Santa Julia Viognier 2009 ($12), sourced from Mendoza, Argentina. This is a drier version of this grape but it's not without its charm. More apricot and honey are in play here with a flatter, perhaps oilier mouth. It's a perfect mid-week white for chicken or creamy pasta dishes. Fine value too.

Locally grown viognier is growing in stature led by two new labels. First up is the newly minted Mission Hill Viognier Reserve 2008 ($19). The style is fresh and elegant with a sweet-ish entry and bright mineral, lemon peel, ginger, tangerine, honey and five spice flavours. Thai food seems like the match here.

A first viognier from Laughing Stock Vineyards Viognier 2009 ($26) offers more of the buttery, candied ginger, orange and honey aromas with fresh acidity and more honey, candied orange peel, ginger, buttery, vanilla, floral flavours. Again, Thai or Indian dishes would work here.

South Africa gets into the act with the Excelsior Paddock Viognier 2009 ($16), from Robertson. You will love the freshness and the bright nectarine, lemon, orange, ginger, spicy aromas and the juicy orange peel, ginger, apple skin, honey and mineral flavours. It really offers fine intensity and juiciness for the money.

Our French pick is the Paul Mas Viognier 2008 ($14) from Languedoc. Jean Claude Mas blends viognier fruit from cool and warm sites using young and old vines and relatively low yields to produce a fresh aromatic style. On the palate, peach and honey mix effortlessly with a creamy lees character. A small percentage is barrel fermented in new oak but the bulk is aged only in stainless steel tanks to retain maximum freshness and finesse. A great turkey wine.

Our final two picks take viognier to another level. Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley 2008 ($28) is a big step up in intensity. Some 60 per cent of the fruit was gently pressed directly to barrels, the rest to stainless steel tanks. It has an enticing nose flecked with honey, butter, guava, orange, grapefruit and ginger aromas. The style is ripe, the palate soft with more mango, ginger, honey and orange creamsicle flavours. You will love its cool finesse and friendly style. Drink now.