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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Westend Estate The Boxer Roussanne Viognier, Riverina 2009 - Laithwaite's

This Aussie white from Riverina was sent to me by Laithwaites under their 100% satisfaction guarantee scheme after I emailed them mentioning a couple of wines from both a Mystery and a Discovery case (now called 4 Seasons) that I'd thought were a bit sub-standard or just not to my taste (if I want something sweet and red, I'll buy Ribena).

Australia does not really do terroir in a big way - the focus is more on expression of grape variety. However, for those interested, the winery is based in Griffith, part of Riverina (the tag on the bottle), itself part of New South Wales, one of the most prosperous grape-growing regions in Australia.

In style it's a ripe, New-World oaky Chardie lookalike, as it's actually made from Roussanne and Viognier; both grapes originate in the Rhône in France and whilst Viognier is starting to make a name for itself as a stand-alone varietal, Roussanne is still pretty anonymous.

To me, Viognier is a poor-man's Chardonnay; tropical and citrussy when ripe, peachy when more restrained, it has Chardonnay's affinity for oak, but tends to lack its complexity.

Roussanne is more of a blending grape (often with the equally-anonymous Marsanne) and the two most interesting things about it are that 1) it produces russet-coloured berries (roux in French and hence Roussanne) and 2) although a white-wine grape, it can be blended in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. As to characteristics, when fully ripe, Rousanne produces wines that are herbal and full-bodied with honey and pear.

The Laithwaites tasting note starts by suggesting that the climate in Griffith is similar to the Rhône Valley with cold winters and baking hot summers before moving on to a series of school-boy boxing puns.

When you name a wine "The Boxer", there's little suggestion that you are going for subtlety and with 13.5% alcohol, clearly that's not the aim here. What you do get is ripe fruit, rich oak and a bit more besides. There's not much classy restraint, but there is actually a decent amount of complexity and balance - the ripeness has a crisp acidity running through it, there's plenty of body, hints of spice and the oak is both buttery and toasty.

It's an easy-drinking wine with plenty of up-front personality; enjoyable but not dumbed-down, it works either as a quaffer or with food. With all that richness, the foods needs to have a hint of sweetness so go for slow-roast chicken, fruity, slightly sweet cheeses such as an aged Cheddar or a Manchego or my favourite match a Thai green curry with coconut.

It has medals from the Sydney Royal Wine Show 2010, Australia and the Decanter World Wine Awards 2010 , United Kingdom

At £7.99 (plus delivery), it's sort-of reasonable value, too.

Provided by Laithwaites under their 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Links

Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/

Westend Estate - http://www.westendestate.com.au/index.php

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