Australia's white wine scene is a hotbed of quality, and very much on the up. The country's foremost wine communicator, Huon Hooke surveys new and established wineries, large and small, to name his top estates. As published in the Decanter July 2012 issue.
Eden Valley, South Australia
With chief winemaker Louisa Rose (pictured) and director of winemaking Brian Walsh setting the style, Yalumba is arguably the greatest white producer in Australia, with a wide range of varieties at the top level and an unusual level of pioneering exploration. In that area, Yalumba has made Viognier its own, producing about seven each year (including an organic bottling and a stunning Wrattonbully Botrytis Viognier). The flagship wine is Virgilius (the regular Eden Valley Viognier is less worked and almost as good) and other new varieties include Running With Bulls Vermentino. But it’s Riesling that is this family company’s great strength, all grown in the Eden Valley. Pewsey Vale (and its five-year-old reserve release, The Contours) has been extended to an off-dry version, Prima. Heggies and the cellar-aged Heggies Reserve are outstanding in a more austere style, and Mesh is a justly celebrated joint venture with Grosset. Yalumba Chardonnay is less fêted but recent strides have been made with FDW Adelaide Hills (made with Dijon clones), Heggies and Heggies Reserve. Heggies also yields stunning botrytised Noble Riesling.
Yalumba, Virgilius Viognier 2009
Discreet, subtle aromas, a lick of restrained toasty oak, and spicy fruit which is complex and a far cry from one-dimensional, apricotty Viogniers. A sneaky hint of honey adds complexity. Smooth and very long finishing. Beautiful balance. Could easily take more age.18.5pts/20
Price: £24.99 AC Gallie, Harrods, Majestic, Nidderdale Fine Wine, Planet of the Grapes, Selfridges, Slurp, Taurus Wines, The Wine Society