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The Big Match: Australia vs California

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This month we tasted two Viognier comparing Renwood from California and Pikes from Clare Valley Australia. And the winner…. Well there wasn’t one really. Both wines faired well at the tasting some preferring the Renwood and others the Pikes.
The Pikes however wins on price coming under the £10 mark while the Renwood cost almost £15. Both are worth seeking out and trying – good on their own and good with food.

Renwood 'Estate' Viognier, Shenandoah Valley 2000
A big busty wine with some with slightly burnt aromas but full of marmalade tastes and intense lychees flavours, these are enhanced with an underlying sharpness that gives the wine a nice balance. The wine has a good finish although the aftertaste was ‘limited’ according to some. Oddbins own tasting notes identified a plethora of fruit tastes – melon, ripe peach, maple syrup, and vanilla. At 13.5% it is quite high in alcohol. This is not a pure Viognier but a 20/80 blend - the minority grape being Marsanne. Renwood is situated in the Shenandoah Valley in the Sierra foothills of California. It has a reputation for its Zinfandel wines but is taking Viognier seriously. Robert Parker the well known US wine expert is reported to have described Renwood as ‘a tour de force in winemaking’. The Estate Vineyard where this wine comes from is only 25 acres in size. You can visit the winery online at You can buy the wine from Oddbins at £14.99 together with its cheaper Sierra Series brother.

Pikes 'Clare Valley' Viognier 2001
Well done on this first pressing from Pikes Clare Valley winery. A lovely wine made ‘sweeter’ by the price. A classic Viognier – honeysuckle and sweet to smell and with a taste of fruit (apricots and pears), ginger and some oak. A delicate and finely balanced wine that people at the tasting declared a ‘really nice drink’. The Pikes have English ancestry dating back to the 19th Century. This winery has been open since 1984 and is situated out of Adelaide at Polish Hill River on the eastern side of Clare Valley. It has a coolish microclimate that means later ripening and more intense flavours. They have their own web site . The winemakers tasting notes describe ‘rich tropical fruit, apricot and a little creamy oak’ It has a low acidity and will improve over the next 2-3 years. You can buy it from Lea & Sandeman, if they have any left, for £9.99

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