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Massena The Surly Muse Viognier 2009
The grapes for 'the surly muse' are sourced from a single site in the Koonunga Hill sub-region, adjacent to our blocks of old vine Mataro and Grenache. This is one of the coolest regions of the Barossa Valley with an altitude of over 300 metres above sea level. Koonunga Hill is renowned for its deep red, heavy clay soils. We harvest the block at two different stages (up to four weeks apart). The early pick giving the wine great natural acidity and green tinges, whilst the later yields the rich and ripe fruit flavours usually associated with Viognier. Fermentation and ageing of the Viognier was completed ‘surlie' (on lees) in French Barriques for 6 months.
The wine is pale gold in color with bright green highlights. The nose displays aromas of apricots, honeysuckle, wild fennel and grapefruit. The palate is rich yet restrained, with succulent tropical flavours that are matched with fresh acidity, a taught band of minerality and a creamy texture.
We have dedicated growers in the North Western Barossa areas of Greenock, Kalimna and Koonunga Hill, providing fruit from dry farmed, low yielding vines up to 120 years of age. While we work mostly with traditional Barossa varieties Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro from these growers, we are also trialling new varieties such as Durif, Barbera, Dolcetto, Roussanne, Saperavi and Tannat.
Historically and presently the most important wine-producing region of Australia, the Barossa Valley is set in South Australia, where more than half of the country’s wine is made. Because the climate is very hot and dry, vineyard managers must be careful so that grapes do not become overripe.
The intense heat is ideal for plush, bold reds, particularly Rhône blends featuring Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro (Mourvèdre). White grapes can produce crisp, fresh wines from Riesling, Chardonnay, and Semillon if they are planted at higher altitudes.
Most of Australia’s largest wine producers are based here and Shiraz plantings date back as far as 1860. Many of them are dry farmed and bush trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, purple juice.
Full-figured and reminiscent of a potent floral perfume, Viognier is the mandatory grape of the northern Rhône appellation Condrieu and neighboring monopole (an entire appellation dedicated to just one winery) Château Grillet. It is also a blending variety in several appellations throughout the entire Rhône Valley. Viognier is grown throughout much of the world with some degree of success, but is perhaps at its best outside of France in Oregon, Washington, and cooler parts of Australia, where minerality and acidity can be achieved to give the wine the backbone it can sometimes lack.
In the Glass
This is a heady, aromatic variety making rich, complex, and full-bodied white wines redolent of a floral bouquet and assorted stone fruits and tropical fruits, with a hint of spice not unlike that of Gewürztraminer. It is lower in acidity than most white wines, lending to its heavy impression on the palate. While a whiff of Viognier might suggest sweet flavors, these wines are typically quite dry.
Viognier is an intense, bold variety that can easily stand up to gutsy food like pork loin with apricot stuffing, chicken Kiev, or rich, spicy fare.
While Viognier is a white grape, it also plays an important role in the red wines of Côte Rôtie in the northern Rhône, made otherwise from Syrah. About 5% Viognier is typically co-fermented with the Syrah in order to stabilize the color, and as an added benefit, add a subtle perfume.