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Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2016
The nose has intense aromas of early season just picked apricots, cardamom, white pepper and fresh ginger. Lifted ginger spice is layered on the palate with mineral sourdough like texture and complex apricots and almond savouriness. The trademark Viognier lusciousness of the palate is clearly evident in this wine. It is complex while at the same time showing purity and restraint that will unwind slowly in the glass and take the imbiber on a sensory journey.
At its best with food, The Virgilius complements a wide range of flavors, particularly dishes with spice and rich flavors. Try with poached pike perch; grilled sirloin and chips; beef rendang; pan fried herb stuffed mushrooms; or fresh gnocchi with olive oil and shaved truffles.
The Virgilius, while showing all the virtues of great Viognier as a young wine, will reward cellaring as it evolves in the bottle, with even more layers of flavor and aroma.
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.