Viognier sings a siren song for vintners across the world who are looking for something different in a white wine. They are lured by the ethereal flavor profiles and rich textures offered by the best Viogniers, which come from the small Condrieu appellation of France’s Rhône Valley. Few Condrieu competitors, however, succeed in delivering the goods, and the wines of Condrieu can be quite expensive, making this white a rare bird. Indeed, as part of my tasting beats, I have tried plenty of value-priced Viogniers from the Languedoc region of southern France, but many lack the acidity to back up their soft fruit and floral flavors.
Recently, I tasted a fine effort from Australia: Yalumba’s South Australia Viognier The Y Series 2008. According to the winery’s technical sheets, the grapes were fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts and then left on the lees (dead yeast cells), for a few months to provide extra richness and nuance. Yalumba has been making Viognier for more than 20 years, and its experience shows in this wine. It had a somewhat muted white fruit aroma with flavors of peach, as well as notes of apricot and Meyer lemon. Firm and clean tasting, it had a refreshing minerality. I rated it 88 points, non-blind, and at the $14 a bottle I paid for it or less, it would make a fine sipper for a holiday party.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Yalumba South Australia Viognier The Y Series 2008 (88, $10).