Our very close friends have a daughter named Maggie – whom they call ‘Magpie’ at times – which inspired me to buy a Shiraz-Viognier blend named ‘Laughing Magpie’ for the next time they would join us for dinner. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to pairings or rating – just wanted the name and the story. Also, I knew the winemaker d’Arenberg always makes great stuff, so it was a safe choice with potential upside. Well… this turned into a huge win and it continues to be one of my favorite go-to wines.
What’s the big deal about a Shiraz (Syrah) – Viognier Blend?
The Shiraz / Syrah grape is a big bold red with roots in the Northern Rhone region of France. Yet, Viognier is a full-bodied white from the same area. Yes – this is a blend of red and white grapes which originated in the highly regarded Côte-Rôtie.
So how and why did this get started? As is often the case, there is an economic reason to trigger the winemaker’s innovation. Côte-Rôtie allows up to 20% of its namesake wine to include other varietals besides Syrah. As Viognier is often grown alongside Syrah, it was an obvious opportunity to extend the higher value Syrah with the Viognier.
Turns out most Côte-Rôtie blends include about 10-15% Viognier. If you look for some of the better Côte-Rôtie’s, don’t fall over when you see the price from $200-$400 a bottle. This remarkable blend is seriously good wine.
Getting real – check out these wines under $30…
The wonderful thing about Shiraz-Viognier is that there are far less expensive excellent bottlings from California, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Without question, the best values with wide distribution are from Australia. Try these:
- d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz – Viognier, McLaren Vale, Australia $22-$26
- Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz – Viognier, Central Victoria, Australia $17-$22
- Yalumba ‘Y Series’ Shiraz – Viognier, South Australia – $12-$15
While the lesser expensive offerings are made to drink now, I recommend a minimum 2-5 years of age for an amazing result. Wine temperature should be 60-65°F. Pair it with Beef, Game, BBQ Chicken, Stew (Veg or Meat) or dishes with bold sauces. You can find these Shiraz-Viognier wines and more at Shiraz-Viognier Blends
I just finished our last bottle of the 2007 Laughing Magpie and it was frankly awesome. Thank you, Maggie, for the inspiration.
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