Tag: Clonakilla

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

Jul 07 2011

Buy Wine Ideas: Aged Australian Riesling – Beautiful Expressions of Terroir

Posted on July 07, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

As the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman notes “Australia makes a unique style of Riesling that shows off the lovely stone fruit character of the grape, often weaving in floral, citrus and mineral flavors, hanging them all on a dry frame.” (Tasting Highlights: Australian Riesling by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 23 February 2005)

Australia’s reputation as a great producer of dry riesling was forged in the 1980s and 90s with the emergence of wonderful rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley, produced by top names including Grosset, Henschke, Annie’s Lane Jim Barry, Tim Adams, Petaluma and Pewsey Vale. But in recent years, excellent riesling has also been made in Victoria (Crawford River, Jasper Hill), the Great Southern region of Western Australia (Larry Cherubino, Howard Park, Abbey Creek Vineyard) and the Canberra District (Helm Wines, Clonakilla).

More than any other white wine, the best rieslings benefit from bottle age. Some will last 25 to 50 years! Over time, the primary fruit flavours are complemented by toasty, honeyed tones and accented by a waxy, minerally range of flavours that impart a richness and taste complexity not evident when the wine is in its youth.

In 2000, the Clare Valley riesling producers became the first in the world to bottle their rieslings under screwcaps. (Now almost all of Australia’s white wines are bottled under screwcap). By all accounts these wines have aged beautifully, with the screwcap protecting the freshness and delicacy of the wine.

Another hallmark of riesling is its ability to transmit its terroir. Well-made riesling distinctly expresses the characteristics of its place. At Grosset’s Spingvale vineyard, for example, rich red soil over limestone produces sturdy vines, big berries, chunky bunches and a lime green … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Terroir: What does it mean and how is best expressed?

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald/Age inaugural Good Wine Guide’s Winery of the Year was awarded to Henschke, the South Australian winery internationally renowned for its single vineyard Hill of Grace Shiraz. Henschke first produced Hill of Grace in 1958, and the wine is one of Australia’s earliest examples of a single-vineyard wine. Today Hill of Grace has distinguished company in the single-vineyard category. Two thirds of the 94 wines in the Good Food Wine Guide’s highest “three glass”  category are single-vineyard wines. (Singled out for greatness by Helen Pitt, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November 2010)

Wine critic and Good Wine Guide author Nick Stock argues that “we need to be championing wines that have a strong sense of place – what the French call terroir.” The prevalence of so many single vineyard wines in the top ranking suggests that winemakers are moving in that direction, but what exactly does terroir mean and how is it best expressed?

Jay McInerney recently wrote a very interesting article about Nicolas Joly, the proprietor of Coulée de Serrant, which is a domain in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley making world-class Savenièrres. In 2000  Joly founded Return to Terroir and is a leading champion for biodynamic viticulture. (Mr. Joly’s Particularly Pure Terroir by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 14 October 2010)

Joly is also a “fierce defender” of the French appellation contrôllée system, which came into being in the 1930s and codified years of regional practice based on the idea that wines should uniquely reflect their terroir or place of origin. Essentially, it restricts the planting of certain varieties to specific regions. The white grape Chenin Blanc, for example, is only planted in the Loire Valley where it is deemed best suited.

Australian winemakers face no such restrictions … Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

The Hilltops Region: Redefining Australian Shiraz!

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When the Eden Road Long Road Hilltops Shiraz 2009 won the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2009 it caused a bit of a stir.  Not only was it only the second wine from NSW to win arguably Australia’s most prestigious wine award, but the grapes were sourced from the Moppity Vineyards in the Hilltops region near Young.

Typically the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions of Australia are associated with Australia’s best shiraz, but the Canberra District and Hilltop wineries are now consistently demonstrating that these cool-climate regions can make an equally powerful and flavourful shiraz in a more elegant style.

Moppity Vineyards has also won a string of top awards with its Hilltops Shiraz, which is made from 30 year old vines. The 2006 vintage won the top gold in its class at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, and the Reserve Shiraz 2008 recently won the trophy for Best Medium bodied Dry Red at the Sydney International Wine Competition 2010.

While the Hilltops region has recently gained prominence as one of Australia’s most exciting new wine regions, Barwang, in fact, first started growing grapes in Hilltops in 1969. Today, it continues to make quality wines at reasonable prices, and is also leading the way in sustainable vineyard and winery practices. Other top wineries include Grove Estate, Binbilla and Chalkers Crossing.

Grove Estate is run by viticulturist Brian Mullany and the wines are made by Richard Parker, and Tim Kirk of Clonakilla fame. In addition to the highly regarded The Cellar Block Shiraz Vionier, Grove Estate also makes the award winning Sommita Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo is the grape of both Barola and Barbaresco, Italy’s most noble wines.

“It’s important to me that when you drink Chalkers Crossing wine you get a true sense … Read the rest