2017 Shiraz Viognier release

We are thrilled to tell you that for the third time the Shiraz Viognier has been confirmed as Exceptional, one of Australia’s greatest wines, in Langtons Classification VII.

The 2017 continues the long line of beautiful vintages that has established the lofty status of our flagship wine. The reviews are amazing:

One of the greatest vintages of this wine. It has a super complex array of white and black peppers, hard brown spices, leaves, flowers and fresh wet earth, as well as graphite-like dark stony notes.

The palate is immaculately detailed, long and silky with flavours of blackberries, red cherries, red plums, dark cherries and dark chocolate. The palate is delivered with steady elegance and power, showing unwavering build and a seemingly never-ending trail of fresh and spicy fruit flavours. With the most immaculate tannins, too.

The real soul of this wine shines through in this perfectly simpatico vintage. Fascinating to drink now, but it is best to give it some time. Try around 2025. 98/100 – Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com

A gloriously fragrant and elegant Clonakilla is the blessing of a classic cool year, brimming with rose petal and pot pourri. A delightful core of morello cherry and wild strawberry fruit glides seamlessly through a lingering trail of powder-fine tannins. It’s set to go down as a long-lived Clonakilla. Drink 2022-2037 – 96/100 – Tyson Stelzer

Australian Grand Cru Shiraz. It has both lightness and power; it has wooden racks of spice set into deep cupboards of black cherry; it has anise; it has forest berries, it has florals and it has meat, though all of it sits in the one, neat, tidy room.

Tannin is so fine and so bright with spice that it sits like gold thread in an evening gown. It’s a wine of shadows and a wine of light; of shadow and of joy. Pour a glass and behold its beauty, for it is rich in that. 96/100 – Campbell Mattinson, Winefront

We are excited to be launching our new lay-down six-pack with this year’s release. The Shiraz Viognier comes in this beautiful box when you order in multiples of sixes.

Photographer

2016 Shiraz Viognier Magnum

The 2016 vintage gave us a Shiraz Viognier that is laden with some of the most opulent, spice laden, dark berry fruit we have seen. And what better way to see this wine mature than in the Magnum format. This is one you don’t want to miss out on!

“…it is among the very greatest Australian red wines…This is a truly glorius wine…” 98 points – James Halliday

“This is a Shiraz Viognier of the highest order…this vintage sits confidently among the greatest syrahs on earth.” – Tyson Stelzer

“…a jaw-droppingly beautiful wine.” – Dave Brookes

“…a classic in the making.” – Ralph Kyte-Powell

A wine of rare beauty

The 2016 Syrah is simply one of the greatest wines we have made.

Long time mailing list members will remember that the first Clonakilla Syrah we released was the 2006.

Our thinking was to have a second great wine that could challenge Hermitage in the Northern Rhone in the same way the Shiraz Viognier now gives good Cote Rotie a run for its money.

The Syrah always comes from the same parcel of vines on our vineyard, a wedge of North East facing vines perfectly positioned to catch the warmth of the sun for most of the day. The warm aspect means the Syrah often carries a darker, more brooding signature than the Shiraz Viognier.

The way we make the wine differs too. We leave out the 20-30% whole bunch addition that is standard in our SV ferments and of course for the Syrah we add no Viognier for co-fermentation. It is simply pure Shiraz grapes, destemmed but not crushed, fermented by their own natural yeasts, left for a full months on skins and then two years in 500 litre fine-grained French oak barrels.

Here is what Huon Hooke had to say about the 2016:

This is a wine of rare beauty. The colour is bright but not dark, and the aroma is spicy, vegetal, foresty and ultra-complex. Medium-bodied, intense and superbly textured, it has soft, gentle tannins and great elegance. Its appeal grows with every sip. It has an effortless natural charm.
Score: 97 ★★★★★

2018 Small Batch release

We’re thrilled to unveil our new Small Batch wines for 2018.

2017 Chardonnay
There is the distinctive Tumbarumba grapefruit signature framed by those complex barrel ferment and lees derived nuances that are hard to describe (“funk” is the description du jour). I’m really happy with this. The lip-smacking acid in particular has me reaching for the second (and third) glass.

2017 Pinot Noir
Little by little, through careful work in the vineyard and winery, we’re building layers of complexity into this wine. 2017 was a touch cooler than the two preceding vintages and there is a gorgeous elegance here. Subtle flashes of floral and red berry aroma shine through a background of leaf litter and Indian spices. Silky tannins too.

2017 Ceoltoiri
A joyful wine. Vibrant red fruit with a twist of leather. Just delicious. It’s the ripest Ceoltoiri we have released at 14.5% alcohol but there’s nothing aggressive about it. The bottle disappears with amazing speed. (You’ll need a case…)

2016 Syrah
Whole Shiraz berries (no whole bunches) from the top half of our T&L Block One. A month on skins and then two years in tight grained French puncheons (larger, 500 Litre barrels). This is a wine of power and purpose.

It captures the haunting rose petal aromas – the calling card of fine Murrumbateman Shiraz – and girds them with a belt of rich, dark fruit that drives the authority home. This will live and grow for many years in the cellar if you have the patience to wait. Our first vintage, the 2006, looks utterly stunning today.

‘… exceedingly complex and charming. A wine of real beauty’ – Huon Hooke.

We’ll have these wines on tasting for a short time at the cellar door if you’re in the area. Order online today and avoid the disappointment of missing out!

Warm regards,

Tim Kirk

Decanter Wine Legend: Clonakilla, Shiraz-Viognier 2001

A legend because…
The style of Shiraz that blends, and usually co-ferments with Viognier is an established, if not historically accurate, tribute to Syrah from Côte-Rôtie. Not everyone admires the style, but most would agree that no Australian winery makes a better version than Clonakilla. Most vintages through the 1990s received high critical acclaim, from show judges and wine guides, and the 2001 came to be regarded as one of Clonakilla’s most outstanding.
2001SV_legend_post
Looking back
The Kirk family arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1968, and three years later the biochemist John Kirk planted a vineyard in Murrumbateman, 40km north of Canberra. The property took its name from the family farm in Ireland’s County Clare. The first commercial wines (and the first for any in this region) were made in 1976. Viognier was first planted in 1986, when it was still seen as a rare, exotic variety. Throughout the 1980s Clonakilla Shiraz was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, but after visiting the Rhône in 1991, Tim Kirk resolved to model the wine on Guigal’s single-vineyard blends he’d tasted from barrel. The first Clonakilla Shiraz-Viognier was made in 1992.

The vintage
2001 was a warm year that gave a good growing season without disease pressure, and harvest for this wine took place from 31 March to 10 April. Although the crop was large, the wines show rich flavours and good concentration.

The terroir
The soil at Murrumbateman is sandy clay-loam, over a layer of friable red clay, which sits on a subsoil of decomposed dacite. By Australian standards the climate here is cool, as the vineyards lie at 600m. The Kirk family gradually increased the area under vine, planting more Shiraz and Viognier between 1993 and 2007, until it reached today’s 13.5ha. The cool climate brings out the spicy red fruit and floral character of Shiraz, though the profile inevitably varies according to vintage conditions.

The wine
In 2001 a third of the Shiraz went into the fermenters as whole bunches. Lightly crushed Viognier grapes were added and then covered with destemmed Shiraz. The gradual release of juice as the bunches broke down through the course of the fermentation prolonged the process and moderated the rising temperatures. There were three punchdowns daily. After a short post-fermentation soak, the wine was run into fine-grained French oak barrels, of which one-third were new, for 12 months. Kirk is aware that an excess of Viognier can impart a blowsy apricot sheen to the blend, which he is keen to avoid, and he also steers clear of a pronounced oaky character to the wine.

The reaction
In the 2002 Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide, Huon Hooke and Ralph Kyte-Powell named the wine Best Red and Wine of the Year: ‘This could be the best yet in a very distinguished line. Tremendously intense and alive, with great elegance and power.’

In the same year Max Allen in Decanter declared it a ‘new benchmark for cooler-climate Australian Shiraz, and a serious rival for the classiest Côte-Rôtie.’

In 2009 on jancisrobinson.com, Julia Harding wrote: ‘Apricots on the palate as well as on the nose. fione and tight and superbly structured. Scented, floral, peppery aftertaste with beautiful finesse and length.’

In 2014 Lisa Perroti-Brown of The Wine Advocate wrote: ‘Lovely creme de cassis, prune and pot pourri notes allied to hints of dried Provence herbs, tobacco and game. Crisp and structured by medium-level, chewy tannins…a stemmy character to the fleshy palate and finishes long, earthy and savoury.”

Written by: Stephen Brook

The facts:
Bottles produced: 10,700
Composition: 93% Shiraz, 7% Viognier
Yield: 50hl/ha
Alcohol: 14.1%