Fire Gully Shiraz Viognier 2008 (Margaret River, WA)
$25, Screwcap, 14.5%
Fire Gully is the second label of Pierro, the acclaimed Margaret River producer with one of the smartest Chardonnays in the land (and a very good white blend too). I can’t quite understand the intent with this wine though, which looks plainly unbalanced and awkward.
The problem here is twofold. Firstly, the Viognier component is far too dominant. At 9.7% of the blend it’s hardly surprising that the Viognier pokes out, but the glossy, confected edge that it gives to the nose and palate is just unsettling. It looks unnatural.
The second issue is the bitter, astringent tannins. Hard tannins that smack of mixed ripeness and tough ripening conditions. Tannins that remind us that Margaret River is Cabernet country (and Merlot too, though few give it the attention it requires).
Bringing these two together and this drinks like a train wreck. Sweetly plump and overtly juicy on the nose, then drying and bitter on the finish. If anything, the genorosity of the Viognier actually helps the drinkability, even though it’s a cheap and slutty alternative to proper fruit ripeness.
Given how very fine the top Pierro’s are (the 06 Chardonnay is glorious) I’m really not concerned about the quality potential. But a Margaret River Shiraz Viognier built like this is puzzling to say the least. 14/81