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Rose: I can’t bang the Viognier drum alone

Louisa Rose, chief winemaker of Yalumba in the Barossa Valley, has admitted that she would like to see more producers getting behind Viognier.

Yalumba’s chief winemaker, Louisa Rose

Speaking to the drinks business at a vertical tasting of Yalumba’s top Viognier, The Virgilius, in London last week, Rose said: “I want to see more people getting behind Viognier in Australia and the rest of the wine world.

“I can’t bang the drum on my own. I was hoping more producers would have followed suit by now – it would be nice to have some company.”

Yalumba planted the first commercial Viognier vines in Australia in the ‘80s and has grown to become one of the leading producers of the variety in the world.

Yalumba’s top Viognier, The Virgilius

Rose makes a number of different styles of Viognier, from entry level and organic, to an Eden Valley example and top Viognier, The Virgilius, which is aged in old Burgundy barrels for ten months.

“I’m trying to make flavourful, textured, fresh styles – food is very much on my mind with these wines,” she told db.

“My aim is to make Viogniers with longevity. When I started out, I didn’t even know if it was an achievable dream.

“I’m passionate about The Virgilius becoming one of Australia’s flagship whites and am looking to get it into the Langton’s Classification, but in order for it to do so, it has to be able to prove that it can age,” she added.

A move to screwcap in 2003 has been pivotal in helping top The Virgilius to age gracefully.

“There is a lot of bottle variation with the older examples. I tried the 1998 vintage of The Virgilius recently and had to open a lot of bottles before I got one that I liked, but when you found a good one it was exquisite,” Rose said.

“I’m very confident about how The Virgilius is ageing and evolving under screwcap – ten years on and it’s looking delicious.

“I don’t know how much longer it will age for, but the good ’98s are looking quite similar to the 2003s in terms of style, structure and flavour profile.

“I’m not looking to commercialise a five-year-old Viognier, but it’s an exciting journey we’re on,” she added.

In terms of vine age, Rose believes it’s too early to say whether it plays a key role in the making of high quality Viogniers but believes sunshine is vital.

“The more of a suntan the grapes get the better flavour they have – sun locks the flavour in,” she said.

Rose recently increased her Viognier plantings and now has 13 clones in the ground.

Yalumba has just bottled a 2012 Eden Valley Rousanne to sit alongside its Eden Valley Viognier, which will go on sale in the UK next month with an RRP of £15.

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