Fragrant, floral, and fresh, what could be more perfect for the spring than Viognier. Viognier produces some of the world’s greatest white wines. It is not only incredibly delicious but it is quite versatile and pairs well with food. A Northern Rhone white grape variety, Viognier has found a second home in Eden Valley, Australia. April 29th is International Viognier Day and the perfect day to celebrate Yalumba Viogniers.
Yalumba started with the planting of vines in 1849, by founder Samuel Smith. Today, with the sixth generation, Yalumba is Australia’s most historic family-owned wine company. They are an independent family-owned winery showcasing the best of the Barossa.
At Yalumba, they strive to reduce their impact on the environment, stay involved in their community, and make great wine with minimal intervention in the vineyard and in the winery. They are committed to sustainable practices, with the belief that the healthier and more biodiverse the vineyards are the better the wines will be. Yalumba has been developing its own sustainable viticulture program since the mid-1990s, promoting the economic production of quality grapes.
Louisa Rose is Yalumba’s superstar winemaker. Celebrating 31 vintages at Yalumba, Louisa is one of Australia’s leading and most influential winemakers. Thanks to her efforts, Louisa has put Australia on the map for Viognier.
It is hard to believe that this prestigious variety almost became extinct. In the 1960s there were only 25-30 acres of Viognier planted in Northern Rhone. From a winemaking perspective, Viognier is a hard grape to grow. Louisa says, Viognier yields are low, it is susceptible to mildew and has a very short picking window, yet Yalumba took a chance on the grape and planted Viognier vines in 1980. It was the first time Viognier had been planted outside of France. Today Yalumba is one of the most significant producers of Viognier outside of France.
When Louisa joined in 1992, she started to experiment with Viognier and its flavors. She spent a lot of time understanding this white grape variety. She found that Viognier thrived when they were hanging out in the sunshine and had better flavors than those Viognier grapes that were hiding in the shade under a canopy. This was unusual for white grape varieties in the Barossa which often like their shade. Now with the help of sunshine, Viognier had great flavor, but still, low acidity, and a lot of phenolics from the skins, and the wine was still quite flabby according to Louisa. She stopped adding yeast and used natural yeast from the grapes and the vineyards. Wild yeasts play a subtle yet important role in the development of their Viogniers creating wines that have layers of richness, complexity and fine textures.
Thanks to Louisa’s efforts with Viognier, Yalumba is one of the most highly respected producers of Viognier in the world. Yalumba Viogniers all share a common element; they have a wonderful textural component to them that is very inviting and complex. The Viogniers are aromatic and have classic notes of apricot and white peaches. The wines were creamy, exotic and refreshing. I had the opportunity to taste four unique expressions of Yalumba Viogniers with Louisa Rose. The four wines share a common grape variety but offer a range of styles.
The Y Series Viognier 2021 is on the fresher, lighter end of the Viognier spectrum. It shows all the unique characteristics of this exotic variety, without being too rich on the palate. Yalumba’s Eden Valley Viognier 2020 is a pure expression of the exotic variety. It’s full of flavor and character and finishes with freshness.
As the name suggests, the Organic Viognier 2021 is a certified organic Viognier that is made without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides in the vineyard. The aromas are complex and funky. Honeysuckle, lemon rind, apricot and peach aromas combine with hints of cashew and fresh pineapple. Rich and textured, the palate is luscious with layers of spice, citrus and apricot, showing the distinct varietal Viognier characters. Louisa has a delicious Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry recipe which is an ideal pairing for this wine.
The Virgilius Viognier 2019 is their flagship wine and is regarded as Australia’s benchmark Viognier. This elegant wine will take you on an aromatic journey as it evolves in the glass with classic Viognier notes of ginger, apricot and almonds. Old vine Viognier grapes are carefully selected from Eden Valley vineyards to craft The Virgilius.
**Photo Credits Yalumba Wines**