Valhalla on the Murray River

What do you get when you add a Dane to Rhone varietals plus a dash of Murray valley dirt and a green philosophy to wine making?

The answer is Valhalla – some sort of Norse heaven.

On our many trips to the Rutherglen region in nothern Victoria, we’d passed by often enough but it was never open. One of those Rutherglen region boutique places open on weekends and by appointment. So, you can imagine our glee when we saw the flags waving and the open sign on the driveway. Another new Rutherglen winery to tick off – only three more to go unless you count the other by appointments.

The surprise doubled as we met a familiar ex-Cofields face and the warmth of the greeting was equal to the 14 degrees inside compared to the 8 degrees outside.

The wines were very well crafted for a winery in its fourth year. The Viognier was well, Viognier, but the Riesling was crisp and dry and rather moorish for a cold winter’s day. I was interested in the Marsanne as there is so much more being made in the district and people are realising it can thrive in the warmer Mediterranean climate of the Northeast. This one was a 2009, not overoaked and promising to be long lasting.

But, as one wise wine drinker once said, “Life is too short to drink white wine”, so we started on the GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre). Just the right balance with the Grenache rightfully dominating the front palate and a fine Mourvedre finish. I wasn’t sure of the name for the Durif-Shiraz blend, the Ranga, but was assured it was a nickname for redheads and as our new Prime Minister is a red head, we were patriotic and drank it. It must be the cheapest Durif in the world and the tasting notes suggested it is a drink now wine. This is unlike most of the Durif (known as Petite Syrah in the US) in the region. It is a recently released 2009 that would be interesting to taste in a couple of years time to see if the tasting notes were accurate.

The 2008 Durif was more like it and cost twice as much. It has many years left in the bottle. The difference a year makes. The 2008 vintage seems to have been great across the region while 2009 was difficult because of soaring temperatures.

We passed the Shiraz-Viognier just because too many people are doing them and I can’t think of one that justifies adding another $5 to the price for 5% of fruit that I don’t think adds much to a great wine. The 2008 Shiraz just proved me right again!

The green bit impressed me. Lots of water recycling and a quest to be sustainable. Hosting a green living fair in September is part of the package as are slow food Sundays. A welcome relief for the stressed diners we saw in other eateries in the area.

Well worth a visit to find out why a Danish person ever wanted to go to Rutherglen…


By – Michael Metcalfe


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