2020 Rylstone Estate 'Bluebird' Botrytis Viognier


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Brought to you by Rylstone Estate


Inspired by the most famous Botrytis Viognier E.Guigal’s Luminescence made in Condrieu (northern Rhône Valley). Interestingly, only 3 vintages have been made since 1999 due to difficulties in controlling the development of Botrytis on viognier. The fog that descends on the viognier near the vineyard’s river bend from February to April is the perfect conditions for even development of sweet botrytis. The fog burns off by mid-morning keeping other disease risks at bay and enabling flavour to develop alongside sugars. A flavoursome sweet wine with elevated natural acidity.

By: Will de Beaurepaire & James Wilkinson


The vineyard is located above Rylstone in the Central Ranges GI of NSW (40km southeast of Mudgee, 70km northeast of Bathurst). It was planted in 1998, with a mixture of Bordeaux, Rhône, and Burgundy varieties with the intention of selling most of the grapes whilst organically growing wine production. The decision to plant the vineyard at this location over other established winegrowing regions (including family winemaking operations in the Yarra Valley) was due to the similarity of the terroir to Burgundy. The vineyard is in a mountain valley, 150 kilometres from the coast in the Great Dividing Range. It is planted on North facing slopes rising from the Cudgegong River to an altitude of 650m. Geologically, the vineyard is planted on an Ordovician-era (450 MY ago) coral reef with shallow sandy and sandy-loam soils on limestone. The limestone was mined nearby until recently by Kandos Cement. The altitude, distance from ocean and poor heat retention of the soil and limestone, creates an inland continental climate as cool as Central Otago in New Zealand and Tasmania in Australia during the growing season with extreme diurnal variation – late Sept/Oct Budburst, Jan/Feb Veraison and March/April Harvest.


Sourced from C Block with an average vine age of 20 years at the time of harvest. HTK Clone.

Vintage Conditions: Budburst commenced on 27 September 2018. Soil moisture levels were very low due to the ongoing drought, and the season was hot with low rainfall. Yields were greatly curtailed, and white varieties ripened up to two weeks faster. Torrential rain in March slowed ripening of red and sweet wine varieties.

Harvest (yield): Individually selected parcels of botrytised Viognier were handpicked on 14 April 2020. Average yield was 3t/ha (~8hl/ha)


The grapes clusters were cold soaked for 48 hours and 100% destemmed. They were whole berry pressed with and then fermented at 16 to 18 degrees using native and inoculated Sauternes yeast. Ferment stopped itself at 12.9% alcohol.


Final maturation for 20 months - 80% in Stainless Steel and 20% in new hogsheads sourced from Taransaud (Burgundy). All barrels were extra fine grained and medium toasted. Fined with Bentonite. Vegan Friendly.

Analysis: pH 3.25, TA 6.7g/L, Residual Sugar (fructose/glucose) 110 g/L


‘Bluebird’ is made from exceptional parcels of botrytised Viognier, producing a refreshing sweet wine with elevated acid levels. It is elegant with a smooth rich palate and great length. The bouquet is dried apricot, rose petal with subtle French oak.


It is a perfect combination with strong cheese (e.g. St Agur Blue) plates and any salty or savoury dessert or starter. Interestingly, we’ve seen this also well matched with very salty main dishes and with cured, salty meats on a charcuterie plate.


Cellaring Potential: 10 to 15 years (2030 to 2035)

Serving Temperature: 10 degrees C / 50 degrees F

VARIETAL MIX: 100% Viognier (Botrytis)

ALCOHOL: 12.9%

GI: Central Ranges (Rylstone), NSW, Australia