Mr Barval Mistral
72% Viognier 28% Marsanne
Production: 2347 bottles
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 Mistral wind 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 2017 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 is grown in on the border of the Yallingup and Wilyabrup sub-regions, more in the north of the Margaret River wine region. This warm, exposed vineyard produces grapes wonderful flavour development in the Viognier which thrives on this harsher site.
The Marsanne portion of the blend is 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 2019/20 growing season was characterised as being quite a warm one in respect to our typical mild Mediterranean seasons. Spring brought with it the typical mix of stunning days interspersed by a couple of significant storm events which thankfully did not impact upon Viognier flowering and consequent crop levels, but did drastically reduce the Marsanne crops form the southerly site.
Following on from a marginally warmer than usual spring, Summer arrived rapidly and we had several runs of significantly warmer than average temperatures which lead to an overall seasonal pattern of higher than average day time and night time temperatures – December in particular averaged 3 degrees warmer than average for day time maximum temperatures!
Another key factor in our growing season weather was very low to no rainfall throughout the summer.
These growing conditions were highly favourable for the Viognier and Marsanne grapes for our 2020 Mistral blend. Healthy grapes which had a good soaking in the warm sunny days of summer has lead to incredible development of aromatics as well as the awesome textural components which are a real feature of this wine style.
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 2 months.
The 2020 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 2020 Mistral tells such a strong tale of the 202 season and is perhaps the finest iteration of this classic wine style which I have yet made! With intense floral, spice and apricot fruit notes on the nose providing a detailed representation of the hot summer weather conditions which the fruit ripened in. The wine also displays wonderful savoury, almondy nutty notes, again reflective of the hotter growing season and such a reflection of this classic wine style. The wine is medium weight with a fresh natural acidity which provides the perfect backbone to the soft, broad mouth feel, rich apricot, light honey and exotic spice notes. This is an incredibly textural wine with high complexity but no heaviness or clunky-ness. It is drinking wonderfully right now but will definitely continue to develop well and age for another 6-10 years.