Chapoutier’s class of 2013

by Matt Walls
If the majority of the press surrounding the 2013 vintage in Bordeaux is to be believed, most en primeur samples should have been gathered up, put in a sack and...
92

2010 Catapult Shiraz, McLaren Vale

( £13.99 down to £10.50, 14.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Wirra Wirra makes some of my favourite South Australian reds, wines that are ripe and full of fruit, but not ponderous or over-oaked. This is an Aussie take on a Côte Rôtie with 2% Viognier adding extra fragrance to the Shiraz. Dense and sweet, with plush tannins, good texture, well-judged oak and a savoury note. Ripe and well balanced with sweet bramble and blackberry fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, Australia, Red, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier
89

2009 The Liberator (This Bird Has Flown), Swartland

( £11.95, 14.5%, The Wine Society )

This Cape blend of Chenin, Viognier, Chardonnay and Clairetter Blanche won’t be to everyone’s taste – it’s got some age to it and a developed, Sherry-like not – but I salute its ambiiton and left field flavours. Rich and honeyed, with some vanilla and nutmeg spice, fresh acidity and bags of concentration. Appealingly funky. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, South Africa, White, Bical, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Viognier
86

2011 The Curator, The Swartland

( £6.95, 13.5%, The Wine Society )

By the hot house standards of the Swartland, this is a light and comparatively elegant red blend of mostly Shiraz with some Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Viognier. It’s a scented, unoaked style with some pepper spice, raspberry and red cherry fruit and refreshing acidity. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, South Africa, Red, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah/Shiraz, Bourboulenc, Viognier
93

2009 Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier, Eden Valley, South Australia

( £26.99, 14.5%, Harrods, Selfridges, Slurp )

A candidate for the title of Australia’s best Viognier (and that’s not meant to sound like faint praise), this is true to its varietal, but in a subtler way than many New World examples. White flowers, some cream, a hint of spice, nuanced oak and enough acidity to keep the wine tingling nicely on the palate.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, Australia, White, Viognier
91

2011 d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Marsanne/Viognier, McLaren Vale, South Australia

( £9.99, 13%, Sainsbury's )

The wonderfully theatrical Chester Osborn is better known for his reds than his whites, but he has a suprisingly subtle touch with the latter, as this very lightly oaked blend of Viognier with 32% Marsanne demonstrates. It’s a spicy, pithy, understated white, with good crunch and zest, a hint of apricot and a mealy, balanced finish. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Australia, White, Marsanne, Viognier
94

2010 Rustenberg Straw Wine, Coastal Region

( 13.49, 10.5%, Waitrose )

Made from grapes dried on straw mats to concentrate their sugars and flavours, this is a remarkable, barrel-aged blend of Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Crouchen, with rich, mouthcoating flavours of apricot syrup, honey, vanilla pod and citrus fruit. There’s a slight volatile lift that adds to the complexity of the wine here. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2016Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chenin Blanc, Crouchen, Viognier
92

2011 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block, Western Cape

( £19.99 down to £14.99, 14.5%, Waitrose )

Marc Kent’s cult red blend is always in demand, so you might need to hurry to buy this. It’s as good as ever: plush, sumptuous and aromatic, with sweet, ripe, tarry flavours of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut and Viognier, good acidity and lots of smoky, palate-warming fruit. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier
91

2009 Laurent Miquel Vérité Viognier, Pays d'Oc, Languedoc

( £14.99 down to £11.24, 13.5%, Waitrose )

Laurent Miquel makes some of the best Viogniers, not just in France but in the world. This judiciously-oaked wine wouldn’t look out of place in Condrieu, such is its fidelity to this supremely aromatic grape. Classy vanilla oak, fresh acidity and flavours of cream and stone fruits are beautifully intertwined here. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-2014Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, White, Viognier
93

2010 BLANKbottle The White Black, Western Cape

( £18.50, 13.5%, Stone, Vine & Sun )

Yet another name to add to the list of stunning white blends that are emerging from South Africa, Pieter Walser’s delicious cuvée of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette and a splash of Chardonnay tastes as good as it looks. Honey, apple and stone fruit flavours are nicely framed by gentle vanilla oak, with richness, spice and minerality all adding to the overall complexity of the wine. Long and well balanced, this is a remarkable buy under £20. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, South Africa, White, Chardonnay, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Viognier