This wine is inspired by the white wine blends of the Rhone Valley in France. Originating in Switzerland, the Rhone river flows west towards Lyon before turning south down the Rhone Valley to the Mediterranean coast. The strong, cool wind known as the Mistral blows down the Rhone Valley from the Alps and has a profound impact upon all of the agriculture in the valley, viticulture being no exception. This is the inspiration for the name of the wine.
Perhaps the most famous of the Rhone white varieties is Viognier (pron. Vio-n-yay). The bronze tinted, thick skinned, hardy white grapes typically produce a medium weight, dry wine with characteristic bright floral and apricot notes. This is often blended with either or both of Marsanne and Roussane, to produce a vibrant, complex, floral wine, capable of being enjoyed in its youth as well as to be cellared and enjoyed with several years of bottle evolution.
The Viognier for the 2018 Mistral was sourced from two separate vineyards. The first is located in the Walcliffe sub-region of Margaret River, with a northerly exposure and around 4km from the Indian Ocean on the banks of the Margaret River itself. Sitting high on this hillside, the vines grow in gravelly, well drained soil and experience fantastic exposure to the warm summer sunshine and regular, cooling sea breezes.
The other portion of Viognier as well as the Marsanne portion of the blend are grown at one of the most southerly vineyards in the Margaret River region located in the Karridale sub-region, some 4.5km West of the Indian Ocean and 6km North of the Southern Ocean.
The 2017/18 growing season got off to a good start in spring. Even budburst, high numbers of inflorescence (grapevine flower clusters) and great conditions during flowering lead to a fantastic berry-set and gave growers an early indication of better than average crop levels.
Then our summer, which is typically quite mild in comparison to other areas of Australia, progressed as a much cooler than normal summer. In January, whereas we normally experience days of around 28°C as a maximum and around 16°C during the evening, during the 2016/17 summer we rarely had days over 24°C and regularly experienced evening temperatures down around 11°C at night.
The healthy crop levels and cooler temperatures lead to a very slow maturation of the grapes, with all varieties being harvested approximately 4 weeks later than usual our wines.
All of the grapes for this wine were handpicked into small 8kg crates and immediately transported back to the winery where the whole bunches of grapes were placed gently into an old-school basket press to extract the juice. Whole-bunch basket pressing is the most gentle way to extract the juice from the fruit and is a process common to the world’s highest quality white wines. No additions, subtractions, fining or filtration of any sort was conducted on the juice.
From the press the juice was run directly into 3 year old French oak barriques for fermentation. The wine was fermented utilising the indigenous yeast which came in on the grape bunches from the vineyard. The wine fermented to absolute dryness and was left in contact with its lees for 5 months.
The 2017 Mistral spent 9 months in barrel before being racked via gravity to tank pre=bottling. This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered and displays the possibility of producing elegant, pure, bright and clear wines, in this very natural way.
The nose of the 2017 Mistral is beguiling. Packed with light spice and floral perfume hints, apricot blossom and savoury from the yeast contact. The palate is light-medium in weight with a stunning fine, mineral acid line running the full length of the palate. From a crisp , fresh entry, the palate flows ever onwards with a wonderful texture and sweet spice and floral flavours. A great length and high level of complexity means the wine hangs with you palate and the finish is clean and fresh. This wine gets your palate salivating and wanting to eat something with it – the perfect condition for a wine to be in.