Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sutton Grange Bendigo Viognier 2008

Did you know that up until 1968, the only plantings of Viognier in the world were in the Northern Rhone, and there was only 14 hectares! Thankfully today Viognier is planted at over 180 hectares in the Northern Rhone, as well as here in Australia, NZ, California and South Africa.

Viognier is generally associated with high alcohol volumes, and with this it develops its maximum flavour profile of fruit pastilles, apricot, honey, orange blossom, orange peel and peach aroma. It also has quite a unique mouth feel, being almost like soap – slippery.

However, Viognier is most famous for its co-fermentation with Syrah in the Cote Rotie of northern Rhone and around the world. Traditionally, the co-fermentation is about 95% Syrah/Shiraz with the rest being Viognier. Here in Australia we have experimented with up to 12% (I will not name the producer of this garsley drop cos they knew they stuffed it up with the following vintage resorting to 4% co-fermentation). Australia’s most famous example of this would be Clonakilla from the Canberra District.

But today, this blog is about Viognier on its own, and more in particular, the Sutton Grange 2008 Bendigo Viognier.

One of my favourite wine producers at the moment, Sutton Grange is doing everything right up in Bendigo right now. Gilles Lapalus is a third generation Burgundy wine maker who is plying his trade primarily with Rhone varieties – Syrah and Viognier.

So the wine. The colour is a pale yellow-grey with an almost clear hue to it. The nose has a really good Viognier whack of apricot, but not like the Condrieu Viognier where they can be stewy, this one is more on the sweet side; this is also backed up by the lowish a/v – 13.5%. The palate has a surprise up front with quinine, or a tonic water taste, being the primary hit. The longer in the glass the wine gives off a more classic style of Viognier with orange rind and apricot kernel (that’s if you have ever sucked on an apricot kernel) and a slippery almost soapy mouth feel.

Good balance, medium length – if a bit short perhaps, nice complexity and really good Viognier weight.

Drink with pork chops
Drink till 2011

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