Shiraz Viognier is an increasingly popular wine in among Australian winemakers at the minute. Over the last few years the Australians have been blending their world class Shiraz with Viognier, a white wine variety which has emerged from obscurity in the Northern Rhone region of France (See previous post on Viognier). This blend has been made in Rhone for years but it is only now due to the New World winemakers tendency to name the blend on the bottle that people have become aware of it.
Most wine lovers know that wines can be made from just one variety (varietal) or they can be made from two more varieties (blended wines). The wine variety making up the majority of the blend is named first in this case the wine tends to be 95% plus shiraz, anymore than 5% viognier and the wine may develop a sickly floral note for a red.
Usually blended wines are made by blending two or more batches of wine, each made from a single variety. The winemaker strives to balance the weakness of one variety with the strength of the other to achieve a more rounded result. Shiraz Viognier is named as if it is a blend, but in fact it is produced by a slightly different method.
By contrast, Shiraz Viognier is produced by the method of co-fermentation. Here the red Shiraz grapes are mixed with the white Viognier grapes before the wine is made. The addition of white grapes at this stage is thought to preserve the brightness of the red pigments during fermentation, as well as altering the development of some of the flavour compounds.
The fermentation process of making wine involves a large number of concurrent chemical reactions which change the nature of the phenolics in the wine. Phenolics are a group of chemical compounds found mainly in the skin of the grapes and they are the main contributors to the colour, taste, firmness and odour of the wine.
O’Leary Walker Shiraz Viognier 2004
A very limited parcel of wine made from 100% Clare Valley fruit. The viognier gives this wine a floral perfume which is joined by spice from the shiraz the aromas are all consuming. The palate is silky rich with a long alluring velvety finish.
Yalumba Barrossa Shiraz Viognier 2005
The nose explodes with aromas of cloves, cedar, plums and raspberries. On the palate it has huge rich blackfruit flavours with spices and anise and clove notes.