2004 The Black Chook  Shiraz Viognier

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2004 The Black Chook Shiraz Viognier

South Australia, AUSTRALIA
$16.99 Bottle
  • Cellar 1 - 2 years (2006-2007)
  • ABV 15%
  • Closure: Screw Cap

Viognier has become the hottest grape variety in the wine industry today and is possibly the most seductive of all white grape varieties, renowned for its superb perfumed character. The origins of Viognier is said to be Dalmatia (now Bosnia) and was introduced to France by the Emperor Probus in 281 A.D. Ampelographers {studiers of vine leaf structure] regard Viognier, together with a number of other pink skinned white grapes as the primeval precursor of all red and white grapes. However, in spite of its ancient origins, Viognier almost disappeared off the viticultural map mainly because of its extremely low productivity, having established a reputation as capricious, finicky and degenerate. By 1968, thirty five acres of the cultivar remained globally. By 1970 young French winemakers made a timely rediscovery of the versatility of Viognier and plantings were slowly increased in the Condrieu and Cote Rotie Appellations of the Cote du Rhone.
In Australia, Viognier has caught the winemakers and the publics imagination as the "Consort to Shiraz." Yalumba was the Champion of the varietal in Australia, planting 1.2 hectares in the Barossa Valley in 1980. Viognier has a number of qualities that contribute to its exotic character. Yalumba winemaker, Louisa Rose states that "Viognier ripens quite differently to most white varieties, the flavour develops late in the season and quite quickly; it is generally a combination of patience, risk management and prayer that sees the flavour accumulate in the fruit." Australia's great Shiraz winemaker, Ben Riggs, has become enthralled by the variety and has developed the technique for maximising both aroma and flavour from the blend. Not surprisingly, he believes "bloody good" viticulture is important for both varieties! Fermenting the two grapes together seems to modify the structure and aromatics of Shiraz. The secret of using Viognier with Shiraz is to use it sparingly. Although up to 20% of the blend is permitted in the Cote Rotie, generally a far smaller quantity is used. Ben Riggs maintains that it is easy to over do Viognier characters in Shiraz as it is highly perfumed, very tannic, naturally low in acid and often high in alcohol, (15% or more). The balance of the wine is achieved by relying on the textural aspects of Viognier, rather than on the acidity alone which is the norm in white wine making.
So what are the qualities of Shiraz Viognier? Ben relates his experience at the London Wine Trade Fair. "There we were, with the chief buyer of one of the UK's largest supermarket chains discussing Shiraz & Viognier. The somewhat 'old school' buyer, in requisite pin stripe suit, proclaimed boldly in front of another junior buyer, loud enough to ensure we would all be listening to the experienced palate; "..lifted, aromatic, almost honeysuckle, no, is that apricot, no, that is, it's a perfumed nose" and I was thinking, excellent, spot on, the Viognier lift is there, now for the palate; "In the mouth, rich ripe, sensual, serious, velvety." Bloody brilliant I mused to myself, what a clever winemaker I am, we've got him! Summing up the clincher; "...a seriously disjointed wine, the nose is putrid, nothing like the palate & and the palate is nothing like the nose. Smells like a lady's handbag, tastes like a man's wallet." Ironically the old buyer had just described everything that I wanted to achieve with a Shiraz Viognier, and hated it. Or at least hated the idea of it." A footnote to this tale, is that the supermarket in question did actually buy the wine. In this edition of Vintage Direct, we are pleased to present two outstanding examples of Shiraz Viognier from Ben Riggs, both drinking superbly and delivering exceptional value for money.

Two fantastic examples of Shiraz Viognier showcasing the outstanding quality of the 2004 vintage in South Australia.

Tasting Notes: A red that delivers exceptional value, and over delivers on quality. Totally black purple colour with deep purple hue. The nose displays pronounced perfumed notes, displaying the aromatic influence of Viognier. Aroma of apricots, violets and blackberry followed by a hint of black pepper and spice. The palate displays more refinement than the Zonte's Footsteps, which is bigger and fuller in palate weight. Intense flavours of spice, blackberry and blood plum create a 'joosy' taste sensation, so typical of the wines that Ben Riggs makes. Soft tannins, followed by a long aftertaste of liquorice, apricot, blackberry and spice.
Cellar 1-2 years (2006-2007)
Alc/Vol: 15.0% Stelvin

Other Reviews...
Talented winemaker Ben Riggs has fashioned this blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier, which spent 10 months in French oak. This terrific value represents the frugal person’s Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline. Its dark ruby/purple color is accompanied by an exotic, floral bouquet revealing aromas of apricots, black currants, and cherries. With loads of fruit, a soft texture, and an adventurous, exotic personality, it will be a fun wine to drink over the next 2-3 years.
91 Points
Robert Parker – The Wine Advocate # 161 (Oct 2005)