Balgownie’s best work is in reds, but Tony Winspear has proven his hand with some white outliers. This Balgownie Estate Viognier 2019is the first straight estate Viognier bottling since 2010 with 2 picks, both wild fermented, with nothing added save for a small amount of So2 at bottling.
Varietal and perfumed, the fruit understated and balanced by phenolic punch. I want more weight, but varietal and packs in enough Viognier intensity, Lightly floral, gently stonefruit-driven, it’s a pretty good result for a V-weed.
Best drinking: nowish. Though not falling over. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.2%, $35. Balgownie Estate website. Would I buy it? Worth a glass or two.
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I’ve experienced a Balgownie white outlier. It was a 1990 Balgownie Chardonnay, Premier Cuvee, Series One which was opened in 2008, making it an 18 year-old wine. It was outstanding. My notes at that time read: “Pale yellow gold in colour this wine looks young. The refined nose featured ripe melon, a hint of grapefruit and fine cashew nut oak. One could go on sniffing it without feeling the need to taste it. The palate was fresh but delicate, not much fruit but lovely citrusy elements mingled with the toasty but refined oak. With a nice lingering finish and plenty of acidity it went well with the baked salmon and onion couscous. One guest said it was one of the finest Australian Chardonnay she had tasted.
The back label said it all: “This wine is produced from hand pruned and harvested chardonnay grapes from the Coonawarra region of South Australia. Traditional Burgundian fermentation and oak maturation techniques have created a rich full flavoured style that can be enjoyed now or will repay cellar maturation.” Oh, and one more thing, the alcohol level was 11.0%, and no, that is not typo.