I've noticed a few Syrahs / Shirazes will blend with just a touch of Viognier. DeLille does this with their Doyenne (2%, I believe). Is there any reason why Viognier is chosen? Is this grape bringing something unique to the table in a Syrah?
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It's an old tradition from the home of Syrah in the Norhtern Rhone. Syrah and Viognier are grown side by side there. The two grapes have been co-ferminted for hundreds of years.

In the 80's and 90's this was usually described as a kind of dodge for lazy winemakers to just throw everything in together. I few northern rhone growers however insisted that the Viognier and Syrah have "co-factors".

Co-factors are things in the grapes that compliment each other in the fremintation process. It is said that Viognier locks in the color of Syrah, producing a darker wine, while at the same time lightening the nose and bringing red fruits out.

Most French growers insist that the grapes must be co-ferminted to get out the co-factors. A fair number of wines I've seen however have the viognier blended after fermintation. I can't say I've noticed a huge difference, at least that I would attribute to the blending vs co-fermintation.

I do tend to pick up peach and floral notes in blended wines, while co-ferminted are stronger in red fruits, but that might have more to do with where they are coming from than the winemaking.

Many serious California Syrah producers are co-ferminting and insist on the Viognier and Syrah coming from the same vineyard. Copain and Lagier Meredith come to mind.

Personally I've planted Voignier with just the idea of co-ferminting (and a little vin de paille) in mind.
Good job Tilly!

Co-fermentation creates a stacking of the anthocynans (spelling) and leads to long term color stabilization. The viogner is not as noticable with cofermentation but in blending, the viogner is used for aromatics. The Italians have used cofermentation for centuries to maintain color in the sangiovese by adding whole grapes or the skins of Pinot Grigio.
benchland, Italian grapes are not my specialty, but I thought in Tuscany at leaset it's something else used with Sangiovese? Starts with a V or an A but I can't remember the name off the top of my head.

I think in Tuscany there's more scepticism about the combo with Sangiovese and if it improves the resulting wine than there is with the Syrah/Viognier combo.

Edit - Went and looked them up:


Trebbiano, was the one I was thinking of. Ugni Blanc in France. I think the reason that Trebbiano's contribution is doubted in Tuscany is that it's such a poor grape on it's own, best suited for the still and brandy.
You can use just about any white varietal and to limit the amount of character given from the white, use only the pressed skins (copigmentation). By using copigmentation, you are just creating a more stable and longer chain of color. This adds little, if any flavor or aromatic profile to the finished product. Hell, we did an experiment in 03 where we cofermented (not copigmented) some Sauv Blanc with some Cab and did another lot from the same vineyard without anything but Cab. Not that you need more color in Cab, but the cofermented lot did come out darker (and still is) than the other with the same winemaking techniques.
Thanks TLily,

I can tell you've done some research on this; we sincerely appreciate your knowledge...& the pictures don't hurt either!

Please let us know when the Dead Tree Vineyard starts producing. Or, are you're planning on calling it something else? I thought the name was fitting.

I didn't realize that there was such an interesting answer to this Tlily, thanks. Smile

I always thought that the Laughing Magpie, Goat Rotie and other New World syrah/shiraz-viognier blends were simply attempts to produce a New World version of Cote Rotie.

Whatever the reason, it seems to work very well! I just wish I could afford Cote Rotie so that I could know what the original tastes like.

Are there other traditional blends of small amounts of white into an otherwise red wine?
bman, I think all over the world throwing everything in at once is a bit of a tradition for 'country' wines. There's a place near me, Sycamore Creek that makes a blend of 45% Chardonnay and 55% Ruby Cabernet. You'd think it would be a blush wine, but the Ruby Cab is such a dark monster it's actually deep red/purple.

In quility wine some white is also co-fermented in traditional Rioja. Hermitage can have Marsanne and Rousanne co-fermented. Chateneauf du Pape Reds may have 4 or 5 (offically Picardin can be added, although it's doubtful anything called Picardin really exsists that's why I say 4 or 5, depends on your stance on Picardin) white grapes blended or co-fermented depending on the winemaker. Beaucastel uses all 13 permited varieties in it's blend, although it blends, not co-ferments. Other's may co-ferment, the more traditional ones do.

Melman, we plant this spring, about 5 1/2 acres, next year we'll add another 4+. I'm going to strongly suggest that the vineyard be called "Mount Madonna". It keeps with the Santa Cruz Mountains tradition of naming the vineyards for the peeks they are on i.e. Mount Eden and Monte Bello.

There is a South-Southwest slope that leads up to the main area being planted. About 1 to 1 1/2 acres total on a 30-40 degree slope. The soil is 12 inches of red clay and then a mix of fractured slate and clay. Very Cote Rotie-ish. I'm planting Syrah on that slope, and we'll train them ala Cote Rotie, head pruned and tied up a single stake.

You never know for sure how the wine will turn out, and first harvest will not be until 2008 and 2009, but I've just got a feeling. You stand up on top of that slope, and the sun is beating down on you and just below the planting line the fog is rolling in keeping it sunny but cool, and you just know this is a special place.

I knew you wouldn't take me seriously about naming it Dead Tree. It's bad for marketing.

Congrats on the 5 1/2 acres! Wow, you're going to need a little more room than your garage for that harvest. You won't have room for the Starbucks cup on your sorting table. Big Grin

One more question, can I be on the allocation?


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