Category Archives: Canberra District

Sep 09 2015

Clonakilla Syrah 2013: “As good a Murrumbateman Shiraz as we have ever made”

Posted on September 09, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’ve ever wondered what NSW wine regions like the Canberra District and Burgundy have in common, you don’t have to look much further than vintage variation. Both regions are subjected to notoriously fickle weather. The wild swings in weather conditions keep vineyard managers on their toes and wine connoisseurs and critics endlessly guessing about the prospects of a particular vintage. In both regions, for example, unexpected severe frosts during the ripening period can almost wipe out crops!

But as the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown notes, “fickle weather makes interesting wine.” If you’re looking to drink wine that expresses both its time and place, then you’re naturally inclined to seek out the best vintages for the region and perhaps throw in a dud vintage or two for interesting comparisons!

2013_syrah_01At the Canberra District’s Clonakilla, 2013 turned out to be the greatest vintage to date for its Clonakilla Syrah. According to winemaker Tim Kirk, “This is as good a Murrumbateman Shiraz as we have ever made.” Warm days followed by cool nights allowed the grapes to “develop great colour, dramatic aromas and profound texture and flavours.”

A small production single vineyard wine from Clonakilla’s North-East facing T&L vineyard, winemaking was kept as simple as possible to allow the unique qualities of an exceptional vintage to shine through. Whole berries were fermented warm by their own native yeasts. The wine also spent a month macerating on its own skins and 15 months maturing in fine-grained French oak.

I had the opportunity to try this outstanding wine at Clonakilla’s Cellar Door last week. It proved to be one of the highlight wines of a very rewarding two day tour of the best Canberra District wineries.

Here’s Perrotti-Brown’s 95+ review:

Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the 2013 Murrumbateman Syrah flaunts a Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Grüner Veltliner: An exciting new trend in Australian whites

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article in the Australian Financial Review, wine writer Tim White talked about alternatives to sauvignon blanc. (When sauvignon blanc just won’t do, The Australian Financial Review, 21-23 January 2011). Not surprisingly, riesling and chardonnay topped the top-five list among sommeliers, winemakers and retailers. And of the alternative varieties, three grape varieties stood out: chenin blanc, viognier and grüner veltliner.

Grüner veltliner appeared on my radar when I was researching the Canberra District and its growing reputation for fine riesling. According to James Halliday, in Austria grüner veltliner is grown in all the same regions as riesling. Now two excellent biodynamic wineries, Lark Hill and Hahndorf Hill Winery, from two of the great riesling regions in Australia – the Canberra District and the Adelaide Hills respectively – are demonstrating grüner veltliner’s potential in Australia.

In 2009 Lark Hill released the first grüner veltliner in Australia. It was made from a tiny amount of fruit from their original plantings in 2005. It was very well reviewed, including a 94/100 from James Hallliday:

At long last, a Grüner Veltliner to write about… It is strongly varietal, with a waft of white pepper on the bouquet adding complexity to the fig and ripe pear fruit; best of all is the texture and mouthfeel. Lark Hill is certified Biodynamic – an holistic farming practice established by Rudolph Steiner in Austria in the late 1920’s – so it brings a lovely synergy to produce this classic Austrian variety from the home of Biodynamics. (James Halliday, 2011 Wine Companion)

Lark Hill just pipped Hahndorf Hill Winery to the post with the first release of grüner veltliner in Australia. Hahndorf Hill’s debut vintage was released in 2010, four years after the winery had imported from Austria three different clones of the … Read the rest