Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Viognier making its mark in Heathcote

Tellurian Wines was founded on a love of Rhone reds and a desire to create outstanding Heathcote shiraz.

Within a year of the first release from the 2008 vintage, however, the Central Victorian winery released its first white wine - the 2009 Tellurian Viognier.

Fast forward a decade or so and the 2017 Tellurian Viognier won the trophy for the best white at the 2018 Heathcote Wine Show.

Championed in Australia by Yalumba in the Eden Valley, who make a range of styles, viognier originates from the Rhone Valley and is well suited to the growing conditions in Heathcote.

Medium in style with floral and stone fruit aromatics and soft, round texture, the 2017 Tellurian ($28) is a standout with a fresh, crisp acid finish.

Tellurian winemaker Tobias Ansted spent a vintage in the Northern Rhone working at Domaine Yves Cuilleron at Chavanay, and fell in love with viognier, which is grown largely in the tiny Condrieu appellation.

While Ansted and Tellurian principals Ian and Daniel Hopkins acknowledge that viognier isn’t likely to shift from obscure to mainstream in the near future, they firmly believe this "expressive and textural variety" deserves a place on wine lists.

I tried the wine over two nights, with roast chicken and an Asian stir-fry, and it shone with both.

“It is critical to pick viognier ripe," says Ansted. "You want those rich apricot and orange blossom characters that only develop in later in the season with full ripeness; picking early defeats the purpose.

"Our 2017 Tellurian viognier offers these typical stone fruit, orange blossom notes enlivened by acid freshness and enriched by creamy, yeasty complexity from aging on lees and barrel fermentation in seasoned oak."

That said, this has no "canned apricot" characters. Ansted has used a deft touch. 

Tellurian's white plantings included viognier, marsanne and riesling. In 2014, roussanne and fiano were planted and most recently grenache gris vines. Tellurian hopes to be certified organic in November.

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