Elgee Park Viognier 2005 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)
$35, Screwcap, 13.5%
Viognier. I want to like it. I want to like it because when done well, Viognier can be a gloriously textured, rich and sexy white wine of impact and flavour. And it is done well; Clonakilla do it well, ditto Yalumba and a growing number of Kiwis. It (naturally?) does well in it’s Rhone Valley heartland. It’s even done well in the Hunter Valley. But, if Viognier was a race horse, I’d never, ever, put money on it, as I would always end up watching the thing lose. Unless of course the race was full of Pinot Grigio’s and budget Merlots. Then it would win Bradbury style as all the other horses fell over.
The point I’m trying to make is that Viognier, for all its promise and stories of greatness, is a grape that so often produces dissapointing wine. As is the case here.
By my count, Elgee Park have the third oldest Viognier vines in the nation (30yrs old) placing them in the one of the very best positions for producing something fine, even if they grow the stuff in a region hardly known for its Viognier. The wine itself starts pretty well too, with a textbook, light straw colour that looks bright and well vibrant enough.
The wobbles however start on the nose, which I have written in my notebook as ‘in a difficult phase [question mark, frowny face]’, for it smells muddled and varietally atypical, showing none of that lovely apricot skin Viognier stuff, showing only the influence of some attractive, spicy french oak and little else. I picked up a hint of sashimi (salmon I think :)) and seasalt in there too, though otherwise there is nothing to even give it away as a Viognier. It could be a well ripe Pinot Gris that someone has decided to make a reserve version of by destroying with french oak.
It’s no better on the palate either, though I did very much like the graceful, reserved, acid driven style, with the sort of acidity that everyone would like to see in notoriously flabby Viognier. Oak tannins though are utterly unwelcome in a dry white wine, and this wine had a bit of that happening too. The real problem however was a lack of drive through the middle, with the flavours lacking the intensity to be able to compete with said oak and structure, the whole thing falling apart with time in the glass. A retaste later in the night revealed only a finely oaked, nicely acidic carcass and a hole where the fruit should be.
Barring some sort of serious dumb stage, I’m notching this up then as a wine that promised so much but failed to deliver. 16