Why is this Wine so Yummy?
The wines of Clonakilla have unfortunately garnered critical acclaim worldwide. I say, unfortunately, as by default it means they will continue to become harder for us to get.
It’s rare to find a wine with such poise and harmony.
I know this sound a bit OTT but this is a truly special wine with incredible complexity, counterpointing an incredible perfume with earthy, savoury notes. Stunning balance, incredible depth and length of flavour, it saturates your taste buds with yumminess. The incredible texture of the wine take it to the next level, beautifully refined silky tannins give it a wonderful mouthfeel. Despite the incredible intensity of flavour, it has a subtlety and delicacy that has it passing the ultimate test, you can drink half a bottle without noticing and be gagging to hook the other half!
Words from Tim
The 2017 vintage was built on the wettest winter and early spring that any of us can remember. The early rain turned out to be a blessing, given the warm and generally dry summer that followed.
After the heat of 2016 the more moderate conditions in 2017 made for an unhurried, steady ripening with layers of aroma and texture being built up along the way. In other words, a typical cool-climate year.
Classically medium bodied with a line of pure spice running through rose garden and ripe red berry aromatics.
6% co-fermented Viognier
Classic cool climate spic character at its best
One of the great things about Shiraz in Australia is the range of flavours it produces in the different geographical areas in which it is grown. No other country produces such a diverse range of wines from the one variety, each style clearly recognizable as Shiraz.
From intense ripe plum, blackberry and chocolate in the warmer South Australian areas to the raspberry, aromatic spice and cracked pepper characters from the cooler regions of Victoria, Shiraz presents so many options.
The Canberra District is on the cooler side of the spectrum. There is always a degree of spiciness to be found in Shiraz in this district. In the best years this is a multifaceted character, a complex layering of spices intertwined with ripe berry notes. Black and white pepper are also generally present, particularly in the cooler years, along with clove, nutmeg, five spice and a haunting note of roasted game.
Tim Kirk says, “When it comes time for harvest I’m looking for riper spice notes and berry flavours in the grapes. This is a cool climate and spice is always a key element in the flavour profile. Classic cool climate spice character at its best is more than a mono-dimensional dominant white pepper character, so the grapes are given time to hang for the riper flavours to appear. Red berries are sought after along with the more elusive floral notes such as violets and rose petals. In the warmer years darker fruits emerge: blackberry, blackcurrant, even a suggestion of aniseed.”
La Révélation – A story from Tim
In 1991 Tim Kirk travelled to the Rhone Valley where he tasted the great Shiraz-based wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage. The highlight of the trip was at the Guigal family winery, where Tim tasted the 1988 single vineyard Cote Roties La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque from barrel.
This was a turning point. Tim remembers it well: “There are rare moments in a wine lover’s life when you find yourself transfixed by the extraordinary beauty of what’s in the glass before you, and tasting those Cote Roties was just such a revelatory moment for me. They had striking aromas; an ethereal perfume with complex, savoury dimensions, while the palate structure was different to the robust texture that Australian Shiraz wines are renowned for. These wines were finer in texture, the tannins leaving a silky impression, but with flavours that had persistence and great drive.
I thought at the time that if I was ever able to produce wine from our humble vineyard at Murrumbateman that got close to that level of complexity, refinement and beauty, I would be a very happy man. I wondered if Shiraz wines approaching the best Cote Roties in style and substance could be produced in Australia. I was very fortunate that my father John had planted some Viognier at Clonakilla in the mid-eighties. I had also been impressed with what Bailey Carrodus had achieved at Yarra Yering in the Yarra Valley with his Dry Red No. 2. So from the 1992 vintage onwards we set about making a Shiraz Viognier blend from our Murrumbateman vineyard.”
What happens when you blend Shiraz & Viognier
The blending of Shiraz and the white grape Viognier originated in Côte-Rôtie. The interplay between the two varieties is truly something special.
Co-fermenting rather than blending finished wines simply results in greater harmony and expression.
The colour of the wine becomes darker as a scientific phenomenon known as co-pigmentation occurs, small compounds from the Viognier stabilises the large colour compounds from the Shiraz.
Perfume, flowers, and, spice from the Viognier adding intrigue to the aroma. Making it so much more inviting!
Those aromas carry through to the palate where the last bit of magic happens. The tannins develop differently to 100% Shiraz wines, beautifully refined, and, silky they offer a wonderful feeling in your mouth. mouthfeel.
Tim Kirk was kind enough to send me a mixed case, including some experimental wines not for release. In it, 3 wines, 100% Viognier, 100% Shiraz, the components of his Shiraz Viognier, and, the Shiraz Viognier itself. A fascinating tasting, you could see how each of the component wines contributed to the blend. The blend just had something extra. This is the result of fermenting the red grapes of Shiraz with the white Viognier. The chemical soup that exists during fermentation ends up coming together to be greater than the sum of its parts.
In Côte-Rôtie the vineyards are mixed plantings with Viognier vines next to Shiraz, all picked at the same time. The proportion of Viognier ranging from none up to 10-12%.