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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Yalumba Viognier Is A Symphony Of Flavors

Yalumba Viognier Y Series 2015, South Australia

Cost: $15

I pulled this bottle of wine out of the cellar nearly at random because we needed a wine to drink with chicken soup. I hadn’t planned on writing about it, but then I saw a cool feature on the back label, so I decided I had to write about it.

When we tasted the wine I was even more impressed. This is an incredible bargain.

The wine is pale gold with green tints in the glass. This is a rich, full-bodied Viognier with gorgeous floral, honeysuckle and apricot aromas and citrus and tropical fruit flavors. It has a long, pleasant finish. Teri, Michael and I all loved the wine.

The citrus and floral components work nicely with the rich, savory flavors in the soup. We couldn’t stop sipping the wine as we ate the soup.

I bought this wine for $12 at the Whole Foods going-out-of-business sale, but it is regularly $15. I would expect to pay twice as much for a wine this good.

Teri loves Viognier and she really loved this wine.

Yalumba produces a broad range of wines, including several different viogniers. This particular wine is from their Y series and features a drawing of vine cuttings. Vine cuttings are the beginnings of a new vineyard, planted after careful sorting, grafting and bundling in the state-of-the-art Yalumba nursery.

Viognier first caught Yalumba’s eye in the early 1970s, when the chief viticulturist visited the Rhône Valley in France and the variety’s spiritual home in the appellations of Condrieu and Côte Rôtie. Thoroughly captivated by this elusive, luscious and complex white variety, the viticulturist saw this visit would be the beginnings of a journey that would define Yalumba’s white winemaking future.

In 1980 Yalumba planted about 3 acres of Viognier on the Vaughan vineyard, a property neighboring the hallowed Yalumba grounds in South Australia. This land, situated on the elevated slopes of the Eden Valley, represented the first significant commercial plantings of viognier in Australia.

Yalumba now is the true champion of this unique and seductive variety and celebrates the personality of viognier with six individual wines in their collection.

Pull off label to help remember the wine.

The cool feature on the back label? It’s a pull tab that lets you pull off a piece of the label with key information about the wine. That way if you try the wine at a restaurant or a friend’s house, you can peel off part of the label to help you remember the wine. I wish this feature would catch on in the industry.

Another nice feature of the Y series is all the wines have twist-off caps.

Winery: Yalulmba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery, dating back to 1849. Samuel Smith left his hometown in Wareham, Doreset in England with his wife Mary and their four children to head for Australia.

They spent a short time in Adelaide before moving north to Angaston, where Samuel worked as a gardener for the Angas family. In 1849 Samuel and his son Sidney bought 30 acres and planted their own vineyard in the Barossa Valley, now one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world. By 1858 Samuel was dominating local wine shows. He named his property Yalumba, an aboriginal word meaning “all the land around.”

Yalumba now owns more than 1,000 acres of vineyards in the Barossa, Clare and Eden valleys. The family also buys grapes from selected growers, some of whom they have been working with for four or more generations.

By 1985 Robert Hill-Smith took over as managing director at age 34. He made major changes, innovating the table wine market, buying out all other family share-holders, deciding to match varietals to terroir and building a team of talented young individuals in the family wine business.

After nearly two decades of experimenting with viognier, Yalumba had enough confidence to release the first vintage of it’s pre-eminent white wine, The Virgilius viognier, in 1998. The winemaker was Louisa Rose, who had been with Yalumba for five years, after graduating with a winemaking degree. She is still with Yalumba, and is arguably the most influential maker of viognier around the world.

Yalumba seems obsessed with quality, so much so that they make their own barrels. They are the only winery in the southern hemisphere to have their own cooperage.

The winery selects oak from around the world, chosen to add flavor, aroma and complexity to the wines. Once seasoned, the oak is given to the Yalumba coopers to be made into barrels. The coopers use a long, slow, medium toast on the barrels to produce a delicate toast that softens the natural aromas and gives the winemaker greater control and consistency.

Michael loved the Yalumba viognier.

Goes with: We had this with chicken noodle soup, a rich, savory soup with complex flavors. The Yalumba viognier more than held its own, as each sip made the soup better. Viognier is a great food wine, and the Yalumba is a great example of that.

The wine also would pair well with chicken on the grill, curried chicken, jerk chicken, grilled fish, pasta with cream sauces, Asian foods and all kinds of cheese.

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