The Queen of Australian Viognier, Louisa Rose was in town recently** to show off her wines and I was happy to be invited to a luncheon and tasting showcasing what she has been able to produce in the Australian vineyards.
Louisa has been working as Chief Winemaker for Yalumba winery, based in the Barossa, since 2006 but she first joined Yalumba in 1993 as, what we fondly refer to in the trade, a “cellar rat“. She has been with Yalumba ever since and has worked her way up through the ranks, learning from the legendary winemakers of Yalumba.
Early on in the 1970s, Yalumba was captivated by the Viognier grape (which originally hails from the Rhone region of France) and they planted what began as an experiment. Over the years they discovered that they vines did very well in the cool climate Eden Valley region of the Barossa and it is from these vines that the majority of their Viognier is cultivated. They also source fruit from a number of additional sites in South Australia.
The Viognier that Louisa and Yalumba are producing is made to be drunk with food. A big difference that I found with Yalumba’s Viogniers were the fact that although aromatic, they were not as aromatic as some Rhone wines. This is a good thing in my book as French Viogniers can sometimes knock you over with their powerful aromatics. Another quality that I admired very much in their Viogniers was the freshness and the minerality that ran through the wine.
The most consumer-friendly wine that Yalumba produces is the Y Series Viognier. We tasted the 2012 before lunch and it was a cracker of a wine. Fresh and attractive nose with hints of citrus, melon and papaya it had a medium body with good weight but none of the oiliness that is often found in Rhone Viogniers. It was what I would call a sprite of a wine, a friendly wine to start one on a discovery of the Viognier grape. Although it carried alcohol levels of 14.5%, you could neither taste it nor smell it on the nose. A very well balanced wine and great to drink on it’s own, although watch out with those alcohol levels!
Yalumba’s Y Series Viognier is available in the UK from Majestic Wines at the RRP of £9.99.
** I originally wrote this post for whitewine.co.uk in October 2012