Long touted as a future star here, viognier has arguably never quite had its moment in the sun. However, expressions like this will help to build the case for the grape. The distinctive play of apricot blossom is present, but it never spills into opulence, with citrus and sone fruits accenting. Built a bit like a quality chardonnay, this is textural, vibrant and loaded with fine detail.
Viognier is an exotic variety, and this has that about it, but it’s knit in a very complex and harmonious way, with the characteristic apricot blossom notes – albeit subtle – paired with quince, orange rind, peach and gentle winemaking cues, with lees contact and wild ferment notes, but without the intrusion of oak, having been fermented and matured in concrete eggs. There’s real zip here, with bristling acidity and a stone-fruit kernel chew shepherding the textural chardonnay-like feel of the wine into a refreshing close.
Themes of this wine
A highly aromatic grape, viognier is very distinctly scented with apricot, which can vary from the flesh, to the kernel, to apricot blossom, and those characters can be extremely exotic when quite ripe. It is also a grape that is quite phenolic but with low acidity. So, ripe examples will tend to be luscious and rich with high alcohol. Picked earlier and the apricot notes are more delicate, with acidity more of a feature. New oak flavours are not uncommon with more serious examples.
Amphorae are some of the most ancient winemaking vessels, and the modern practice of using ovoid fermenters is a very similar idea, with the shape encouraging ferment vectors to swirl and tumble. While amphorae are typically made from clay, eggs (and various other similar shapes, including tulip-shaped vessels) come in a range of materials, from concrete to ceramic to steel.
The Bendigo wine region, around 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne is a warm area with a continental climate. While the days are hot in the growing season, the nights remain relatively mild and humidity is low, resulting in less disease pressure. The soils are largely brownish, loamy sands or clay loams, but granitic soils around Mount Alexander and Harcourt can produce distinctively mineral wines. The principal grapes are chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, which is in line with the general national status, but emerging varieties are also starting to find favour.