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Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2018

Red Blend from Murrumbatemen, ACT, Australia


Closure: Screw Cap
Every once in a while you come across something very special. This is one of those rare moments.


The incredible texture of the wine takes 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!

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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

There is no doubt the 2018 is one of the great vintages. A lower than average crop produced fruit with soaring aromas and intense energy through the palate.

A hail storm on January 9 gave us plenty to worry about, reducing what was already a small crop. Mercifully, the vines recovered well. A brilliant ripening season followed, marked by a run of gorgeous weather in the crucial late Summer/early Autumn.

Opulent aromas of roses, violets and layered spices, ripe berries of every hue. Perfectly formed tannins frame complex fruit flavours across the palate. This wine will age magnificently.

6% co-fermented Viognier ~ 28% whole bunches ~ 14% Alc/Vol ~ pH 3.68 ~ TA 6.1 g/L ~ Residual sugar 0.5 g/L ~ Sulfur Dioxide (free) 39 mg/L

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%.

99 Points

Incredibly complex aromas of baking spices, fresh red fruit and a fine and elegant, floral edge, as well as red cherries, raspberries and red plums. This is phenomenal, so precise and concentrated with such detail and power, delivered with elegance and precision. The palate is super long. The best vintage made at Clonakilla to date! Perfection! Drink now, but better from 2026. Screw cap.

Nick Stock

98 Points

The colour is medium to deep red/purple and the bouquet is lifted, spicy, aromatic and floral, with refinement and palate tension. Fragrant herbs, mint, subtle pepper and mixed spices. Violets and assorted berries.There’s great intensity as well as elegance here and the tannins are fine and firm, tautly tensioned and precise, running the full length of the very long palate. A delicious wine in a medium-bodied but seriously structured style.

Huon Hooke

96 Points

Australia’s best shiraz isn’t Australia’s best shiraz in every year, though Clonakilla comes close. This 2018 may well be the best shiraz released in Australia this year. It’s a superb release. Just look at the tannin profile and then put down your glasses. Black berried fruit, a suggestion of meatiness, whispers of woodsy spice notes, a certain creaminess, a quick shake of pepper, a touch of volatility. Nothing protrudes; it’s the definition of seamless. The screw of tannin, so often left to last, begins almost at the start. We are looking at an ultra-long-term wine here, deserving of prime space in the best of cellars. Drink: 2020-2040+.

Campbell Mattinson

Where in the world does the magic happen?

3 Crisps Ln, Murrumbateman NSW 2582, Australia