Contrary to the traditional belief, smelling the cork reveals little about the wine. Instead, if a server or sommelier hands you a cork, you should look for the date and other identifying information (inexpensive wine won’t have these features). Additionally, look for mold, drying, cracking, or breaks in the cork. These are positive signs there might be something amiss with the contents inside the bottle.
Did the Viognier grape almost become extinct?
In the late 1960s just 40 acres of Viognier vines were all that remained in the world, located exclusively in the vineyards of Condrieu and Château-Grillet (Rhône Valley). Happily, the 1970’s saw new life breathed into the near-extinct variety, by the Yalumba Winery in Australia’s Eden Valley and a handful of Californian wine growers (including Opolo Vineyards). During the 21st Century, Viognier has had a remarkable renaissance, and is now found in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the U.S., Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and even Japan. In some instances the plantings remain experimental, as in Rioja and Piedmont, where local wine laws impose restrictions on how the variety can be used. In other locations, notably California and Australia, Viognier has emerged as a prestigious niche varietal.
These Wine Wizard questions were featured in our Gold Wine Club's monthly newsletter, The Wine Press featuring wines from Opolo Vineyards.