WBW 19 – Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz-Viognier

March 8, 2006

For those readers who aren’t familiar with the world of Wine Blogging Wednesday, it’s pretty simple. Once a month, a theme is chosen, and wine bloggers from across the world post on the theme. This month’s theme is “When in Rhone”, and is being hosted by the excellent Winexpression site. Wine bloggers across the world are challenged to find a Rhone-style blend from somewhere in the world. Considering that there are 22 approved grape varieties in the Rhone Valley, that leaves things pretty open.

I went with a fairly typical Cote-Rotie blend, the Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz-Viognier (2002 Vintage). The wine is available at private wine stores across Winnipeg, and will set you back around $33 (CDN).

It’s a bit lighter than your typical Shiraz, with more red than purple in my glass. With 6% Viognier in the blend, that’s not surprising. On the nose, I got my first indication that this might not be a typical Australian Shiraz – there was a whole lot of wild blueberry and a hint of some really interesting spices.

In the mouth, it was again lighter than I would have expected. The blueberries faded away, and were replaced by stronger flavours of blackberries and spice. Nice long finish with lots of pepper to close it off. It was a bit jammier than I would expect from a Rhone blend – but it’s from Australia. I didn’t really pick up much from the Viognier, aside from the overall lightness and the blueberries on the nose.

My verdict? Very tasty, and worth buying. But I’d look for a bottle of the D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie blend before picking this one up again.

As far as comparing it to a Côte Rôtie? To be honest with you, it didn’t compare. My experience with really good Côte Rôtie wines is limited, but consistent. To me, they always have a smokey richness with hints of coffee and spice. This didn’t match up to my memories of the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong – this is an amazing wine and very tasty. But I prefer my Rhone tributes to be a little more restrained in their fruit. Still though, it was an excellent wine.

We served this up with an Indian feast of tandoori salmon fillets, spinach salad with a tarragon-caper vinaigrette, a viciously hot coriander chutney and spiced potatoes. Actually, I diced the potatoes too finely, so they came out looking like spiced hash browns. Still very tasty though, and an excellent match for the wine. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this wine to people looking for a red wine match with Indian food.

The recipes for the tandoori paste, chutney and potatoes are all available here on the BBC’s excellent website. Don’t assume (like I did) that the chutney isn’t hot enough. If you double the peppers, you will pay dearly.

On a somewhat related note, I also recently had the VF “Larisa” Red from the Perrin Family. It’s 75% Shiraz and 25% Grenache (and 0% cork as they proudly advertise) for $12.02 (CDN). If you’re looking for something close to the real Rhone experience, (although it’s actually from Provence) it is hard to find a nicer example at this price. It’s much better than the Perrin’s similarly-priced Vielle Ferme Red.


  1. Thanks very much for this terrific tasting note.

    I have one bottle of the WB shiraz-viognier in my cellar and have been tempted to open it up lately. I keep putting it off because it’s my only one and I can’t seem to find it here in BC (I bought it at Ontario’s LCBO).

    I think I’ll open it up now. And, by the way, I really enjoyed the D’arenberg ‘Laughing Magpie’ as well–very tasty.

    I like the idea of adding viognier–which I love on its own–but it’s certainly hard to pick out in an Aussie shiraz (my experience, anyway).


  2. Glad you enjoyed the notes. I hope I wasn’t too hard on the wine – it just wasn’t what I was looking for in a Rhone-style blend.

    I’m curious to find out what you think of it compared to the D’Arenberg – which was excellent.

    And Yalumba offers this blend as well, both in the ‘Y’ series ($14ish in Ontario) and their more expensive black label version ($46 here in MB).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: