Clonakilla – Australia’s beacon for cool-climate shiraz

There is no need for a whole back story of Clonakilla, if needed it can be easily read up on Google. Tim Kirk is one of my favourite Australian wine makers, and in my books, he is one half of the Australian Rhone Rangers. 2010 was a welcomed vintage because after a couple of year of drought, the rains finally fell in the district. 2011 was spotted with rain, rain, and well, let’s simply say you didn’t really need to water your lawn. The 2010 whites are sitting pretty nice at the momenty, and I’ve still got some from last year’s release. Current release is 2011. The 2010 red wines will seem much lighter in weight compared to previous years perhaps because of the rainfall, but there is no loss of flavour and I actually find them much easier to drink. I am really curious over how the 2011 reds will turn out. The confusion over who lays claim to this wine district is really an issue which needs to be resolved. The wines are clearly marked Canberra District, but Murrumbateman lies across the state lines in NSW territory. Funny how the reviews in eRobertParker indicate Clonakilla hailing from “Canberra, NSW” instead of “Canberra, ACT”. Then again, we could probably all this is merely pedantics right? There’s too much lovely wine to drink to be fussing over this!

Clonakilla Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011, Canberra District
$20. A very pale straw colour, certainly much lighter than any previous release from memory. The Sauvignon Blanc dominates the nose, very grassy with splashes of grapefuit. Intense, clean cutting acidity, medium body with a rounder structure which is probably the contribution of the Semillon. But I feel the scales are overly tipped by the weight of the Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine is rather lost in itself. A wine that can be enjoyed, but from previous experiences, I was looking for a whole lot more. 88/100.

Clonakilla Riesling 2011, Canberra District
$25. Med+ nose with aromas of sweet spiced lemon, rock melon and a hint of apple. Med+ bodied with crisp acidity, finely weighted but I sense that the fruit is very restrained, as though something is holding it back from expressing itself. Partly because of this, I thought it was rather meek on the finish. Some might call this tight and undeveloped. You make your own call. 89/100.

Clonakilla Viognier Nouveau 2011, Canberra District
$22. This is the version that doesn’t see any oak treatment. A wine that has a steely nature and is uncoiled in its infancy. Variatel characteristics of spicy peach and apricot, broad flavours are rather generous in this straight-forward wine. 88/100.

Clonakilla Viognier 2010, Canberra District
$45. Now we’re getting into the serious stuff. This Viognier spent 10 months in French oak. Intense, clean aromatics of kamquat, ripe apricot, ginger. Rich and expressive flavours are very well balanced with pristine acidity in this silky textured wine. Lovely. Drink now – 2017. 93+/100.

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2010, Canberra District
$25. The value-for-money entry level Shiraz, has lovely black cherry and spice aromatics. Med+ bodied wine with pure fruit flavours and a dash of pepper, on a soft bed of plush tannins. Enjoyable! Drink now – 2015. 90/100.

Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz 2010, Canberra District
$35. This is actually a blend with 5% of co-fermented Viognier. Attractive perfume of black cherry, dark berries, pepper and forest florals. A med+ bodied Shiraz that I find is coiled tightly at the moment. Youthful plush tannins and lively, cleansing acidity. Rich berry fruit, overall very finely balanced. Wonderful! Drink 2015 – 2022. 93/100.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010, Canberra District
$85. 5% Viognier. Uplifiting youthful aromas of dark berries, heavy weighted florals, spice and grilled meats. A med-bodied with with a tight core of fine tannins, and the acidity, well I didn’t give a thought about it because I was just enjoying the plush clean, pure fruit flavours and that finish which goes on and on and on… A brilliant example of cool-climate Cote Rotie if anything, or is Cote Rotie the French equivalent of Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier? A beauty! A case for the cellar. Drink now – 2025+. 95-96/100.


About simplepalatesseriously

I am a neuroscience researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a keen interest in wines of the world.
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