Viura is a green grape from Spain, in some parts of Spain better known under the name Macabeo.
Viura is a variety that requires a warm climate, preferably also well ventilated as it otherwise easily will develop bunch, or grey rot, given the compactness of the bunches.
It is a high yielding variety, and its thick skin makes for interesting wines, with maturing in oak being an option. In turn, this means that wine aromas and flavours can differ more than is common for many other green grapes.
Basically, Viura is a grape with an aromatic freshness, but it requires a skilled winemaker to turn it into the great wine it has the potential to deliver. Subsequently, aromas and flavours can vary from floral and aromatic to the deeper, nutty tones you will have when submitted to oak maturation.
The fact that it is less sensitive for oxidation made it popular among wine growers already in the late nineteenth century during the period of recovery from the Phylloxera epidemic.
Viura is more of a blending grape than you will find it as dry, varietal wines. One of its finest expressions is when it is used to produce the white Rioja wine. It is then blended with for example Tempranillo Blanco, Verdejo and/or Garnacha Blanca, with Viura contributing with more than fifty percent of the blend. Maturation will then be according to the rules for producing a white Joven (“young”), Crianza, Riserva, or Gran Reserva, ranging from not oak maturation (Joven) to forty-eight months (Gran Reserva).
Another very nice expression of Virua is when it is blended with Parellada and Xarel·lo for producing Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. The best Cava can be found in north-eastern Penedès, where more than ninety percent of the Cava production takes place.
Viura is also used for blending with Tempranillo in the Rioja Altavesa district.
Given the wide variety of flavours a white Rioja can exhibit, you need to keep the influence from the oak maturation in mind when deciding for how to pair it. A Joven will be a nice pairing to a sea food plate. Serve the wine at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
A Crianza or a Riserva will be a wonderful match to an entrée based on for example Serrano ham. If you prefer to have the wine to a main course, a saffron seasoned Paella is a dream match. The wine is best served at 10-11°C/50-52°F.
To a Gran Riserva, a grilled Tuna, or a roasted chicken are very nice options, although the wine will also work excellently with grilled pork as well. Serve the wine at 11-12°C/52-54°F.
Where is it grown?
Viura is, with its 38.417 ha/94,930 ac, Spain’s seventh most planted variety. It has seen a decrease of ten percent between 2000 and 2010. It is planted in a large number of regions, with an emphasis on the northern and north-eastern regions.
In France plantings of 2.446 ha/6.043 ac are reported, making it the thirty-seventh most planted variety in the country. The acreage, that is almost exclusively in the south, has decreased with fifty-three percent in ten years.
From Argentina is reported a very small (experimental?) planting of 2 ha/4 ac.
On a world-wide basis, it is the twentieth most planted grape on Earth, having decreased in acreage with fifteen percent in ten years.
Viura is thought to have originated in the Spain’s north-eastern region Catalunya. The variety is thought to be a cross between Heben and Brustiano Faux and is of a respectable age – it has been documented for more than four-hundred years.