France is the home of Viognier, Condrieu being the most famous of the wines made from the grape. Viognier however, doesn’t just grow in the Rhone Valley. It has found a home in the Eden Valley in Australia and has been carefully cultivated by the winery of Yalumba.
They planted Viognier 26 years ago and have been working with it ever since, in the process becoming one of the most influential producers of the grape in Australia. The Virgilius Eden Valley site was planted in 2005 from carefully selected clones that were raised in Yalumba’s Barossa Valley nursuries. The grapes are all hand picked and bag pressed, which means that none of the bitter tannins from the seeds are allowed to mix with the juice. The wine spends time in small French oak barrels and fermentation is via 8 wild yeasts found within the winery. The result is a fine elegant wine with excellent length and a long cool palate in between.
The Virgilius is a very small production, only 95 barrels a year are produced so we were quite fortunate to be able to have this with dinner at a winemakers dinner the other night at The Cinnamon Club.
The 2008 Virgilius was paired with a tandoori partridge breast with pickling spices and the lush tropical fruits of the palate worked well with the partridge. Hallmarks of Viognier are ginger and apricot, and both of those flavours could be found in this wine.
It was a finely balanced white, with the fruit not overwhelming the other flavours.
Australian Viognier may not be as lush as its French forebear but it is still a very good choice for meals and the Yalumba Virgilius is probably one of the best Australian Viogniers around.