Why would you blend Viognier with Shiraz in McLaren Vale? It’s not like the Mistral-chilled hillsides of the northern Rhone, where you need the Viognier to add flesh to bony, pepper-laden Syrah. Instead, the Vale is already blessed with abundance – of flavour, sweet fruit, ripeness. All Viognier does is ‘fix’ the colour and stir in a little apricot. Which you just don’t need.
That’s why normally, I wouldn’t bother with The Laughing Magpie. It’s a wine to skip past in the sample pile, with the glint of a d’Arenberg Grenache (or the excellent Original) pulling me closer instead. But this Magpie is different. Importantly, the Viognier slides into the blend seamlessly, a passing note but not the chorus. It’s still luscious, ripe, alcoholic and licoricey and with the sandblasted, black earth tannin drive that d’Arenberg does so well. Yet it feels less like a Shiraz first, blend second. It’s probably just a little black and warm and meaty for really high points. But the core appeal and cohesion is a welcome force. Good Magpie. Best drinking: no need to wait, though the tannins will give this mad ageing skillz. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $29. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.