Another day, another shitty grape celebration.
Hot on the back of World Marselan Day (seriously) and Tannat Day, today is International Viognier Day 2022. Now close followers of this site will know that all these made-up grape variety days annoy me, so we won’t talk about it again.
But what I do want to talk about is a virtual tasting that Yalumba put on to celebrate International Viognier Day this year. Well organised, conversational, featuring not only the ‘house’ wines but also a pair of likely contenders, with a grade support materials to match. I dip my lid, on not just the Yalumba effort with the tasting, but also their overall commitment to Viognier.
As a reference point, Yalumba first planted in 1980, with nearly all of the plants the Montpellier 1968 clone. Since 2005, Yalumba’s Virgilius Vineyard in Eden valley has been home to the most clonally diverse planting of Viognier anywhere in Australia. That’s some serious effort.
You can tell how much Yalumba’s Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose loves the grape too. In this masterclass, she explained how over the years the Yalumba attitude to Viognier has changed – where it now gets treated in its own fashion.
‘I don’t think it’s a difficult variety when you know how it behaves’ she explained.
‘Natural yeast, oxidative handling to help drop out some of those phenolics, also important to recognise its low natural acidity’.
‘Viognier just loves to be out in the sunshine and we pick when the flavours are ripe – usually between 12.5-13.5 baume with fruit straight into the press’.
It’s a recipe that works too, although this still isn’t a style for everyone, and indeed it doesn’t always work. At it’s worst, the V-weed makes flabby AND phenolic apricot juice. At its best, its a textural dynamo that, as Louisa puts it, works with nearly any food (and she likes serving it up to disbelievers with breakfast).
The notes are a bit limited here as I was listening to the context. Hopefully you get the drift. Extra bits in italics.
Y Series Viognier 2021
From the Riverland, but from all over the place – Wrattonbully, Adelaide Hills & Barossa Valley. ‘An entry for anyone who doesn’t know what a Viognier is. Viognier does really well in warmer climates’ said Louisa.
This is a bargain. Very light straw. Just ripe golden peach and apricot. Varietal. A lovely flush of musk, though the palate feels a bit washed out. You get the Viognier character though. Some peach skin phenolics too. Lightness and varietal character. Good drinking wine.
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $15. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses at least.
Yalumba Organic Viognier 2021
South Australia. From a single vineyard in the Riverland.
A step up in concentration. More musk, more apricot richness. This feels really quite correct – a bowl of apricots held in by acidity. There is a certain slippery apricot fruit to the mid palate that drives it. Lovely flavour. Really impressive at this price, if a slightly singular wine.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5% $22. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2020
‘Here I am this is what Yalumba Viognier looks like’. Eden Valley fruit that spends time in older oak.
Fleshy and correct Viognier with just a little bottle development plumping things out. It’s a pretty fresh style this year – it’s more peach juice and even a little podgy. This is good, but I want a bigger step up I think. Then I look at the price and realise this is also a bargain (in context of the effort involved).
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $28. Would I buy it? Sure.
Langmeil Three Gardens Viognier Marsanne Roussanne 2021
All Barossa fruit. James Lindner from Langmeil was on the call and was proud to be call himself a Yalumba supporter
A basket of fruit. There is a little turpentine musk, then a very upfront palate. It’s a broad-brushed sort of wine, easy and round and pleasant, low acidity and fun. Missing some phenolic crunch but pleasant and well priced.
Best drinking now. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2019
Surprised by the alcohol! Yellow straw. Generous apricot and yellow peach nose – she’s ripe. Waxy and oily too with a lob of viscous fruit. Does everything you’d want, all mouthfuls of red apple and stone fruit. Low acid, alcohol warmth, some phenolic grip. Pretty classic, if a bit inelegant and rawish. I don’t mind this as a single glass proposition, even if it was outclassed by other less fancied wines here.
Best drinking: right now. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Yalumba Virgilius Viognier 2019
Louisa deliberately picks ‘the more closed and restrained barrels’ for this. It spends 11 months in older oak. Eden Valley fruit, largely from 1980 plantings.
This smells great. All the apricot juice on the nose, and the palate cascades along with just the right sort of textural width to be interesting. The nose doesn’t seem like much, but the palate is a lovely layered thing – honey, a whisper of toffee, musk. It’s not a phenolic wine, more lush than tangy, but that palate flesh is delightful. maybe just a little broad on the finish. I like it, though not as much as the super 2018 which I last had just a few weeks back. Can’t help but feel this would look better with another 12 months in bottle.
Best drinking: good now, maybe ideal next year. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Worth sharing a bottle.
Yalumba FSW 8B Botrytis Viognier 2020
It’s not as sweet and luscious as I expected. Wrattonbully sourced and full on Apricot juice, although it feels more clean than botrytised. Apricot jam. It flashes through your mouth with that apricotness, and then its gone. It’s a very pure and well-made drink. A mouthful. But a bit of blink and it’s gone.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 10.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Just a glass.
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