A good proportion of the fruit for this wine is sourced from Piebald Gully vineyard, owned by Mr. Riggs himself. Located in Clarendon, a sub-region of McLaren Vale, it is the coolest point in the district and produces elegant spice characters that prove to be a feature of this wine. Vines are arch cane pruned, yield low tonnages, and are on deep sand over orange ironstone impregnated friable clay. The balance of fruit is from mates’ vineyards that have been nurtured with similar care and come together to create an excellent blend of quality McLaren Vale Shiraz. Contributing vineyards include Braden’s and Edgehill – Ding’s Block, both in McLaren Vale.
Mr. Riggs has a simple and personal vision, ‘black and white’ if you like, to make wine that Ben Riggs himself loves to drink – a Winemaker’s wine. As it happens, this wine too is black and white, also known as Piebald; a co-fermentation of blackest of black ‘Syrah’ (Shiraz) with a hatful of the purest white Viognier. Thus the reason for introducing “Piebald” to the label.
Deep in colour, the wine is almost black yet is also vibrant and bright. The nose is perfumed with apricots, spice and liquorice; a pretty, fragrant wine with a sweet, juicy, velvety palate. The finish is elegant with savoury spice and a fine tannin length and persistence. The Shiraz is co-fermented with Viognier skins to enhance aromatic variety, with apricot and spice on the palate. Viognier holds a phenolic (tannic) character that enables increased stabilisation of colour in the wine - hence the bottomless pitlike blackness of colour, plus the savoury tannins which enable the wine with such an elegant flourish. A UK buyer once described a Shiraz Viognier blend thus: ‘smells like a lady’s handbag, tastes like a man’s wallet’. Exactly what Ben was aiming for, and a more apt description of this style is hard to find! The Mr. Riggs 2010 “Piebald” Syrah will cellar well, but we hope its allure is too strong for that.