Our Wine

NEBBIOLO is our sole focus at Virago. We currently have four unique vintages available in our online cellar. The freshly released 2014 Virago Nebbiolo features cherry and plum on the palate, with leathery, spicy overtones. 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.


Oz Wine Review – Virago Nebbiolos

Andrew Graham, 4 January 2018

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I first tasted the Virago wines back in 2015, describing it as a ‘label to watch’. After retasting the range now in 2018, I’m noting that down as a great call – these are some of the best Nebbiolo-based wines in the country. It’s great just to find good local Neb at all, really. Such a capricious variety, that rarely looks good outside of Italy.

The reason why these wines work is the detail. The Virago Vineyard features five different clones, planted on a NW facing slope in Beechworth, the vines tended by hand at every part of the process by Karen Coats and Prue Keith. Rick Kinzbrunner (Giaconda) makes the wines, with extensive skin contact in tank, basket-pressing and maturation in large, 1,600 litre oak – all A1 Nebbiolo handling.


Wine Reviewer – Virago Nebbiolo 2012

Patrick Eckel, 13 February 2017

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Virago Nebbiolo 2012

“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

Wine Reviewer – Virago Nebbiolo 2011

Patrick Eckel, 13th February 2017

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Virago Nebbiolo 2011

“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

The Winefront – Virago Nebbiolo 2011

Campbell Mattinson, 18th January 2017

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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

The Winefront – Virago La Mistura Nebbiolo 2013

Campbell Mattinson, 26 January 2017

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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

Nebbiolo – Lifting the Fog

Dr Michael Ryan, 16 May 2016


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.


Beechworth and other exciting Australians

Jancis Robinson, 26 January 2016

Excerpt below, the full review can be read on Jancis Robinson’s subscription site

“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….