By Christine Salins.
In 1980, at a time when every Barossa Valley winery was planting Chardonnay, Yalumba took the bold initiative in planting something rare and exciting: Viognier (pronounced ‘vee-on-yay’. Today, the South Australian family winemaker is recognised as one of the world’s most influential producers of this aromatic white.
Sometimes described as the “red wine drinker’s white” because it is so luscious and flavoursome, Viognier is a versatile variety that goes beautifully with a range of foods. Its alluring apricot aromas give way to flavours of peach, mango, tangerine and honeysuckle, flavours that pair nicely with spicy Moroccan, Indian and Thai dishes.
When Yalumba first spotted Viognier in the early 1970s, plantings were limited to the tiny appellations of Condrieu and Côte Rôtie in the Rhône Valley region of France. In 1980, Yalumba planted 1.2 hectares in Eden Valley, the first significant plantings of the variety in Australia. These are now some of the oldest Viognier vines in Australia.
Eden Valley, a sub-region of the Barossa, has a similar climate to the Rhône Valley and the plantings proved to be such a success that plantings have since been extended to five vineyards across the region.
Chief winemaker Louisa Rose has forged an identity for Australian Viognier in her 30 years with the company, and in April this year Yalumba introduced International Viognier Day to the global wine calendar to further throw the spotlight on the variety.
Yalumba’s current collection includes four Viogniers at various prices, the flagship being The Virgilius.
Yalumba 2018 The Virgilius: The Virgilius Vineyard in Eden Valley is home to the most clonally diverse plantings of Viognier anywhere in Australia. This very distinguished wine is Australia’s benchmark when it comes to Viognier. Rich and complex yet with lovely restraint, it’s a joy to drink.
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2018: Bursting with flavour and bright floral notes, this fresh lively wine is a pure expression of the variety. Louisa Rose refers to it as the “essence of Viognier”.
Yalumba Organic Viognier South Australia 2019: A little bit funky and oozing character, this one is made with grapes from organically certified vineyards in Virginia and the Riverland, meticulously managed by three families who have been long-term growers for Yalumba.
The Y Series 2020 Viognier South Australia: The least expensive of the four, this one is fresh and zesty, with apricot nectar and citrus notes. Start with this delightful drop and work your way up.