Tag: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

Jan 01 2011

Putting Canberra District Riesling on the Map

Posted on January 01, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

“Ken Helm’s Rieslings took my breath away – why hadn’t I heard of these wines before?”

UK Wine Critic Sarah Ahmed of The Wine Detective recently named Helm Wines Premium Riesling 2010, Canberra District, New South Wales, one of the top five Australian wines of the year. Here’s her glowing description of the wine:

Ken Helm’s Rieslings took my breath away – why hadn’t I heard of these wines before?  This, his flagship single vineyard Riesling, is positively tensile ‘n tightly coiled, with a flinty quality to its brilliant bright but subtle lime on the palate.  Very, very good with incisive length and great precision. (My top five wines of the year: Australia by Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, 28 December 2010)

Recognition for Helm Wines rieslings is certainly growing. The Premium Riesling 2010 won top gold in its class at the prestigious National Wine Show of Australia. Just as Tim Kirk’s Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier focused international attention on cool-climate Canberra District shiraz, Ken Helm may be on the way to achieving the same lofty status for his Canberra District rieslings, which Ahmed regards as among Australia’s best and one of “Australia’s best kept secrets!”

Ken Helm has been making riesling at his family-run Canberra district winery for 34 years

Helm may well have riesling in his blood. He is a fourth generation descendant of German vinedressers from the Rhineland, who established vineyards near Albury and Rutherglen in the 1860s. He has been making riesling at his family run winery in Murrumbateman for over 34 years, sourcing his grapes from four separate terroirs that range for volcanic rocky soils over limestone to volcanic rock soils over red ironstone.

The Premium Riesling, first made in 2004, is a small production (400 cases only) single vineyard wine sourced from neighbour … Read the rest

Oct 10 2010

Wine of the Week: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

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

In my previous post, Langton’s Updates its Classification of Australian Wine 30 September 2010, I mentioned that five wines had been elevated to the ‘exceptional’ category. Langton’s describes ‘exceptional’ wines, of which there are now 17, as “the most highly sought after and prized first-growth type Australian wine on the market.” Langtons: Our Classification Explained.

One of the standouts of this newly elevated group is Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier. According to Langton’s Fine Wine principal Andrew Caillard MW, “Tim Kirk’s ethereal Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is perhaps one of the most important advances in the development of Australian shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange.” (Langton’s: View Classification V)

Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier is a product of a very fortuitous visit to the Côte Rôtie in Northern Rhone that winemaker Tim Kirk made in 1991.

Côte Rôtie produces fine wine from the Syrah (shiraz) grape, sometimes with a small percentage of the white wine grape viognier blended in to add an extra dimension to the wine.

Tim recalled his reaction to single vineyard barrel tastings of Marcel Guigal’s Côte Rôtie with the eRobertParker.com’s Neil Martin: “Up until then, I was familiar with Australian mainstream models of Syrah, with blackberry, with warmer fruit, sometimes with a cola character, even chocolate. But here the wines had an ethereal dimension, a lightness of touch, the flavour profile more in line with red fruits with a complex spice element spun through the aromas and palate. The palate structure was different: finer, silkier and more succulent. It captivated me, it was a revelatory moment and I was completely smitten. Here was a wine of purity, finesse and elegance.”

Tim borrowed other winemaking approaches from Rhone valley and Burgundian winemakers to highlight the inherent flavours of the fruit: inclusion of whole bunches in the … Read the rest