The rise of viognier: Three Australian wines to try

Viognier grapes.

 
 
Brian Walsh
Viognier grapes. Brian Walsh Photo: Brian Walsh

Viognier was once a mysterious and rare white grape, grown in a very limited part of France's Rhone Valley. Now it's found across a broad sweep of Australian wine regions. Viognier is polarising. Very perfumed and aromatic, some of its Australian incarnations have tended towards power rather than delicacy. It's sometimes been flabby, warm with alcohol, phenolic and hard – not exactly the stuff of light refreshment. But Australian viognier has been improving and these days the best are quite lovely.

Yalumba The Y Series Viognier 2018 $13-$15

Score 87 

Australia's biggest producer of viognier is Yalumba. This entry-level South Australian wine has stone fruit aromas with a musky floral overlay, grassy hints, and exotic spice. It tastes ripe and clean with good depth and balance, if a tad short on the finish. Screw cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over the next year.

Stockists include Dan Murphy's stores; BWS stores.

Tahbilk Viognier 2018 $19-$21

Score 90

This Victorian vineyard has long history with the Rhone white marsanne, and viognier also does well there. A true varietal nose offers apricot and pear on the nose coupled to fragrant floral and spice notes. It's lush but not too fat in the mouth with a balanced, savoury finish. Screw cap; 14 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over a year or two.

Stockists include Just released. Check Tahbilk Cellar Door and Wine Club, tahbilk.com.au

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Viognier by Farr 2017 $68-$72

Score 95

Is this Australia's best viognier? This Geelong wine treads a fascinating, refined path, capturing floral aromatics, chicken stocky richness and lightly smoky complexity in perfect balance. The palate is rich yet elegant. Succulent fruit couples to a whisper of old oak in true harmony, finishing soft and lingering. Diam cork; 13 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over three years.

Stockists include Magnums + Queens, South Melbourne (Vic); Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW).