JS 98 A stellar edition of this flagship wine from Clonakilla. The florals are entrancing with beautifully perfumed red and pink notes, cherries, impossibly complex spice, and oak nicely pitched, plus a pepper-dusted plum core. This is magnificent for the complexity already in place. The palate has layers and finely etched yet deceptively strong tannins; they frame up perfectly ripe red and dark cherry and plum flavors, laced with baking spices of every kind imaginable. The finish is vivacious, balanced and lip-smackingly fresh. Drink in 2020.
RP 94+ Medium garnet-purple colored, the 2013 Shiraz Viognier is scented of fresh red and black plums, wild blueberries and nuances of violets, pepper, cloves and cedar. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with seductive, velvety textured fruit before finishing long and layered. Drink it now to 2024+.
I recently had the pleasure to taste through verticals of Clonakilla’s flagship Murrumbateman Syrah and Shiraz-Viognier labels with owner Tim Kirk. Named after his great-grandfather’s land in County Clair, Ireland, Clonakilla was established in Murrumbateman in the Canberra District by John Kirk (Tim’s father) in 1971. Tim’s father sent Tim from boarding school to his grandfather’s farm each summer. A standing stone in the paddock has a Celtic Cross on it – the one featured on the Clonakilla label. Tim went on to study theology and rather amazingly learned ancient Greek so he could learn to read the original Old Testament. He exudes an extraordinary combination of intellectualism and spirituality, attributes so clearly reflected in the wines of Clonakilla. “Shiraz is the grape variety that gives us the window into what our land wants to say,” Tim told me during our tasting of these labels. 1991 was the first vintage of the Shiraz-Viognier to include a small proportion of Viognier, coming from their 1986 plantings of Viognier. In 1993 they began to use 1/3 whole bunches in the fermentation and increased to post-ferment maceration time to forge a more structured and age-worthy style. Produced since 2006, the “Murrumbateman Syrah” is a very special and rare label from Clonakilla. The fruit for this label always comes from one small section of the “T & L Vineyard” at the top half of the hill – the warmest site on the estate. The fruit is harvested, de-stemmed and receives no additions (tannins, acid, yeast, etc.). After a natural fermentation, Kirk just leaves the wine for a month prior to racking and barrel maturation. Clonakilla did not produce the Murrumbateman Syrah in 2007 or 2011.