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Vineyard

First planted in 1945 by a local Italian vigneron, and then purchased and expanded by Brown Brothers in 1950, Virago Vineyard has a long viticultural history, in Australian terms.  Unfortunately, only the terracing remained from the original vineyards, our two thousand Nebbiolo vines were planted in 2007. Virago Vineyard is planted on a moderately inclined, north-west facing slope at an altitude of 270 metres and consists of a combination of five different Lambia clones on one hectare. The nebbiolo vines were planted by hand, and all pruning, trimming, fruit-thinning, soil tilling and picking is also done by hand each year to ensure a low yield of the highest quality fruit.

vignerons barolo

Vignerons

Karen Coats was a tax accountant in her previous life, but her passion for Nebbiolo and the Beechworth wine region have made Virago Vineyard her new office of choice. Karen has finally added a Bachelor of Wine Science to her degree collection. Prue Keith is an orthopaedic surgeon by day, night, and weekend, and devotes her free time (that is not occupied by mountain biking, skiing, and trekking to the peaks of mountains) to Virago Vineyard.

grapes harvest

Nebbiolo

Tantalising, intensely aromatic, robust tannins, rose petals, autumn undergrowth, haunting bouquet, savoury, all describe this unique grape variety. Nebbiolo is considered by most to be Italy’s most noble red grape, often called the “King of Italian Wines”. The Piemonte region of northern Italy is the viticultural home of Nebbiolo, with history dating back to at least the 13th century. The name of the grape is thought to derive from “nebbia”, that either relates to the fog (nebbia) in the hills of Piemonte at harvest time, or the fog-like cover of the skins of the dark gray Nebbiolo grape.

Rick-Kinzbrunner

Winemaker

Rick Kinzbrunner at Giaconda needs no introduction to Chardonnay lovers in Australia (and the world). The most rewarding day of the year at Virago is the day that we drive our ute up the Beechworth road to the Giaconda winery with bins full of our Nebbiolo grapes! Rick may be best known for his Giaconda Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but he also produces a Giaconda Nebbiolo, having been lured in by the complexity of this seductive grape variety. Rick makes our Virago Nebbiolo in the traditional Italian method. The wine remains on skins for an extended period in a large concrete tank, is then basket pressed and transferred to a 1,600 litre Gamba oval cask for approximately three years of ageing.

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Wine

NEBBIOLO is our sole focus at Virago. We currently have three unique vintages available in our online cellar. The 2013 La Mistura Nebbiolo is a delicate wine, a perfect introduction for first time Nebbiolo drinkers. The 2012 Virago Nebbiolo is a big, bold, fruit driven Australian Nebbiolo. The 2011 Virago Nebbiolo is an aromatic floral wine that illustrates the commonly described semblance between Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir.

2013 – La Mistura Nebbiolo

A vibrant Nebbiolo that imparts a sweep of red cherry, with a rose garden aura, perfectly structured with a finely poised tannic grip. La Mistura is a light-bodied, approachable Nebbiolo, making it a pleasure to drink now, with or without food. ORDER FROM OUR ONLINE CELLAR

REVIEWED by Campbell Mattinson WINEFRONT 26th January 2017

“In the words of this Beechworth winery: “La Mistura is Virago’s second label, reserved for those vintages that provide a challenge in the vineyard, as 2013 definitely offered up. We chose the name La Mistura (the mixture), as a result of our original plan to blend this vintage with Shiraz (as in 2010) or Cabernet Sauvignon to give it more fruit intensity and structure, However, after 2.5 years of ageing, La Mistura proved that she could stand on her own!” There’s a tough, sinewy aspect to this wine, not out-of-place in the context of either nebbiolo or the craggy old lands of the Beechworth region. This boot of nebbiolo was made for walking. It tastes of leather and campfire, dark cherry and crushed, decaying roses. You could say that it’s light, because the mid-palate is not heavy, but you could also say that it’s not to be messed with, because the finish feels sturdy and dependable. There’s also a glimpse of orange-rind to the aftertaste; nice work if you can get it. As a four-year-old this nebbiolo shows signs of development, and is excellent drinking now. It may even be on its best-drinking plateau. But you also wouldn’t imagine that it’s going anywhere in a great hurry from here. It’s priced to sell/drink.” Rated : 91 Points

 

2012 – Virago Nebbiolo

Warm summer days and cool nights, revitalizing rain though out the season….the 2012 is a reflection of near perfect growing conditions. The 2012 Virago has a haunting aromatic complexity, with flavours of dark cherry and dried herbs, supported by a fine savoury tannic backbone.  ORDER FROM OUR ONLINE CELLAR

REVIEWED by Patrick Eckel  www.winereviewer.com.au 13th February 2017

“A slightly more opulent and fuller wine when compared to the debut 2011 release, but it is in no way missing structure or complexity that the Nebbiolo grape is known for. The nose has undergrowth with dark cherry and decaying rose petal that will continue to evolve over time. The palate is all about structure at this point in it’s development with a web of drying tannins that’s interjected by tangy dark cherry that dries the mouth and prepares you for the next sip, the finish has a touch of kirsch liquor with blackberry and background oak adding dimension and contrast to the wines more savoury notes.” WINE RATING: 93

REVIEWED by Jancis Robinson 26th January 2016

Pale blackish ruby – correct colour for a Nebbiolo! Sweet and fresh on the nose with correct rose petals on the nose – a bit gentler than the average Piemontese Nebbiolo (like the Giaconda version) but very pretty and true to variety. Clean, dry tannins on the finish. Very vigorous and appetising. You could enjoy this already – even, possibly, without food. It has real lightness. 14% Drink 2015-2019   Rating 16.5/20

REVIEWED by Andrew Graham www.ozwinereview.com 24th November 2015

“Now here is a label to watch. From a vineyard planted in 2007 in Beechworth that is tended by ex-tax accountant Karen Coats and orthopaedic surgeon Prue Keith. Wine is made by Rick Kinzbrunner at Giaconda. Karen has almost finished a masters in Wine Science (like me) and this is very much her baby. Red brown with a little brick, there’s a lovely truffle and red earth nose here, the lithe palate elegant and yet with a juicy middle, it’s just a little light on the tannins, but driven by lovely glacé fruit. Just a bit more varietal intensity and this will be a star. Great packaging too.” Drink: 2015-2025. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, Cork,  “Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.”

REVIEWED by Campbell Mattinson WINEFRONT 6th June 2015

“…It’s beautifully structured. It’s tangy and leathery and black-cherried, with sprays of herbs and woody spice notes. It almost tastes “bunchy”. Acidity runs more into orange and tangerine than into lemon. Tannin is rusty, earthen, appropriately firm but well massaged. In all it’s a wine of much promise, and marks the estate as one to follow.” Rated : 92 Points, Alcohol : 14%, Closure : Cork, Drink : 2016 – 2022+

2011 – Virago Nebbiolo

The initial bouquet includes rose petals, sun dried fruits and herbs. A complex vanillin aroma hides in the background. An hour after opening, the bouquet developed into dusty glazed cherries, rose petals and some earthy funk characteristics. An amazing transformation. The palate dances and flitters on the taste buds. It surfs easily over the palate, with supporting tannins and acidity. The 2011 is drinking beautifully right now, and is benefited by an hour or so in a decanter. Can be cellared for at least five more years.

tastingnotes

 

REVIEWED by Patrick Eckel  www.winereviewer.com.au 13th February 2017

“Impressive packaging, and even more impressive contents. 2011 will go down in folklore as such an incredibly tough vintage, however whether it be variety, site, expert viticulture, winemaking or a little luck this is a great release that is showing all it’s complexities after 5 years in bottle. The wines come from a tiny vineyard that has a little over 2000 vines planted, with the wines then produced by none other than Rick Kinzbrunner. In terms of colour the wine has light to medium red colour with great clarity, the nose abounds with rose petals, crunchy undergrowth and is afforded delicate french oak overtones to finish. An elegant, textural and moreish wine that enjoys the interplay between juicy acidity, touches of baking spice from oak and drying, dark cherry and plum fruit that have a veneer of fine, drying tannins and a considerable, crunchy, dark berry fruited finish.”  WINE RATING: 95

 

We have a limited supply of the 2011, for those yet to try it, or those who want more! ORDER FROM OUR ONLINE CELLAR

 

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Reviews

Australian Wine Companion has given our 2013 La Mistura Nebbiolo a 95 rating!

 

 

Reviews by Patrick Eckel  – www.winereviewer.com.au

Posted on 13th February 2017

2011 Virago Nebbiolo

“Impressive packaging, and even more impressive contents. 2011 will go down in folklore as such an incredibly tough vintage, however whether it be variety, site, expert viticulture, winemaking or a little luck this is a great release that is showing all it’s complexities after 5 years in bottle. The wines come from a tiny vineyard that has a little over 2000 vines planted, with the wines then produced by none other than Rick Kinzbrunner. In terms of colour the wine has light to medium red colour with great clarity, the nose abounds with rose petals, crunchy undergrowth and is afforded delicate french oak overtones to finish. An elegant, textural and moreish wine that enjoys the interplay between juicy acidity, touches of baking spice from oak and drying, dark cherry and plum fruit that have a veneer of fine, drying tannins and a considerable, crunchy, dark berry fruited finish.”WINE RATING: 95

2012 Virago Nebbiolo

“A slightly more opulent and fuller wine when compared to the debut 2011 release, but it is in no way missing structure or complexity that the Nebbiolo grape is known for. The nose has undergrowth with dark cherry and decaying rose petal that will continue to evolve over time. The palate is all about structure at this point in it’s development with a web of drying tannins that’s interjected by tangy dark cherry that dries the mouth and prepares you for the next sip, the finish has a touch of kirsch liquor with blackberry and background oak adding dimension and contrast to the wines more savoury notes.” WINE RATING: 93

 

Reviews by Campbell Mattinson  – www.winefront.com.au

Posted on 18th & 26th January 2017

VIRAGO NEBBIOLO 2011“This Beechworth nebbiolo was released a couple of years ago – it’s not the current release – but it’s interesting to see how it’s travelling. It was of course a challengingly cool/wet year. Pretty aromatics but the palate is reckoned with flavour and, moreso, tannin. The varietal stamp here is distinct. Leather, undergrowth, fresh cherries, twigs and earth. Complex and forceful at once. It sits in broody judgement as it rests in the glass – or so it seems. Impressive. Needless to say: it’s travelling well” Rated : 92 Points

VIRAGO LA MISTURA NEBBIOLO 2013“In the words of this Beechworth winery: “La Mistura is Virago’s second label, reserved for those vintages that provide a challenge in the vineyard, as 2013 definitely offered up. We chose the name La Mistura (the mixture), as a result of our original plan to blend this vintage with Shiraz (as in 2010) or Cabernet Sauvignon to give it more fruit intensity and structure, However, after 2.5 years of ageing, La Mistura proved that she could stand on her own!” There’s a tough, sinewy aspect to this wine, not out-of-place in the context of either nebbiolo or the craggy old lands of the Beechworth region. This boot of nebbiolo was made for walking. It tastes of leather and campfire, dark cherry and crushed, decaying roses. You could say that it’s light, because the mid-palate is not heavy, but you could also say that it’s not to be messed with, because the finish feels sturdy and dependable. There’s also a glimpse of orange-rind to the aftertaste; nice work if you can get it. As a four-year-old this nebbiolo shows signs of development, and is excellent drinking now. It may even be on its best-drinking plateau. But you also wouldn’t imagine that it’s going anywhere in a great hurry from here. It’s priced to sell/drink. Rated : 91 Points

 

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VIC100 Festival of Wine:

We are thrilled to announce that our 2012 Virago Nebbiolo has been selected as one of Victoria’s top 100 wines for 2016.

 

Australian Wine Companion has given our 2011 Virago Nebbiolo a 94 rating!

tastingnotes

 

NEBBIOLO – LIFTING THE FOG

Published in AUSTRALIAN MEDICINE –  16 May 2016

By Dr Michael Ryan

Why Nebbiolo? I asked this question of Karen Coats and Dr Prue Keith, owners of Virago Estate in Beechworth, Victoria. They both replied that the serendipitous exposure to this red grape variety left an alluring wine experience, something akin to the sirens of Homer’s Odyssey.

Why Nebbiolo? It’s such a finicky, lesser-known red grape that is tricky to grow, with early bud burst and late ripening often requiring soils dominated by calcareous marls. It requires meticulous hands-on effort. Perhaps Karen, an ex-tax accountant, Dr Prue, a practicing orthopedic surgeon and winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner (owner of Giaconda), a retired Engineer, had between them enough OCD to tackle these vagaries.

 Why Nebbiolo? It seems fitting that an ancient grape variety is finding its place in the ancient soils of Beechworth. This pocket of paradise must surely be tied in a kindred spirit to Burgundy and Piedmont. Beechworth exudes its own array of amazing local produce and wine producers, including some of the country’s best vignerons, such as Savaterre, Castagna and Giaconda. Just like Piedmont, the fog forms in the valleys of Beechworth after picking season. Karen and Dr Prue are the type of wine growers who keep passionate authors writing about wine. There is the enthusiasm and pride of newly expectant parents. There is the sense of focus and determination. There is the sense of artistry in producing Nebbiolo. I firmly believe that Nebbiolo is the next journey of discovery in wine in Australia.

 2011 Virago Nebbiolo Beechworth – Light garnet, with tinges of brown in colour. The initial bouquet includes rose petals, sun dried fruits and herbs. A complex vanillin aroma hides in the background. An hour after opening, the bouquet developed into dusty glazed cherries, rose petals and some earthy funk characteristics. An amazing transformation. The palate dances and flitters on the taste buds. It surfs easily over the palate, with supporting tannins and acidity. Will cellar for a decade.

 2012 Virago Nebbiolo Beechworth – Brighter garnet in color, exuding youth. Brighter red fruits, with essence of smoky notes. As the wine opened up, candied fruits with herbal notes, more delicate than a Grenache, were released. This is quite a youthful, camouflaged beast of a wine. The wine stands up boldly in the anterior palate then pauses slightly, enough to give space for the structured tannins to shine. Cellar 15 years or more.

 

REVIEW BY JANCIS ROBINSON
26 Jan 2016
Beechworth and other exciting Australians (excerpts below) LINKS PROVIDE FULL ACCESS TO ARTICLES FOR JANCIS ROBINSON PURPLE PAGE MEMBERS

I feel extremely lucky to have been sent recently two particularly exciting collections of fine Australian wines from small-scale producers…….It was Karen Coats who was responsible for a collection that was really mind-blowing, wines from some of the newer, smaller producers in and around the atmospheric little old mining town of Beechworth in the state of Victoria, home of so many of Australia’s quirkiest producers……

Karen Coats is one of the partners of the tiny Virago vineyard and is treasurer of the 30-strong Beechworth Vignerons Association. Hardly any of them owns more than 10 ha of vines and some of them much less; this is small scale stuff indeed. I had the most memorable visit to Beechworth in 2002, ….. The most famous producer there is Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda, profiled in A most unusual Aussie after his visit to London last year. But he and the likes of Barry Morey and Julian Castagna have clearly been joined by a bevy of smaller, newer outfits….

I was particularly impressed by the Beechworth Chardonnays. They provided yet more evidence of current Australian Chardonnay proficiency as outlined in The new Pulignys of Australia. As for the reds, they were made from a wider range of grape varieties, with cool-climate Shiraz featuring, not surprisingly. What was more surprising was how impressive the Nebbiolos are.

 

 

 

 

 

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