Food Wine Red Wine
2018 Shiraz Viognier
2018 Shiraz Viognier
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.
Clonakilla winery is a family business, established by John Kirk in 1971. Developing a vineyard and winery business was originally a weekend distraction for John. He had first developed an interest in wine when he was fourteen. His parents owned the Hydro Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland. When he came home from boarding school one summer he was given the job of looking after the bar and stocking the hotel cellars.
To get a handle on his new responsibilities he began to read about the great wine regions of Europe. He soon became smitten with the idea of wine. His personal knowledge of the subject was greatly expanded through his years of study at Cambridge University, his post doctoral work at Oxford and his time as a lecturer in biochemistry at the university town of Aberystwyth in Wales. In 1968 John took up an offer to come to Australia to take a research position with the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in Canberra.
John establishes the site
To John’s surprise, while the climatic parallels with the great European regions were strong, there was no wine industry in the cool Southern Tablelands of NSW around Canberra.
In 1971 he bought a 44 acre farm near the village of Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra. The soil consisted of sandy clay loams over a base of decomposed granite. He planted a vineyard and named the property Clonakilla (‘meadow of the church’) after his grandfather’s farm in County Clare.
John produced the Canberra District’s first commercial vintage in 1976 – a Riesling Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Shiraz. With the help of his sons John completed the first winery building in 1977, a simple besser block construction. A bore was sunk in 1978 and larger plantings became feasible.
From 1978 to the present the vineyard has gradually expanded with Shiraz, Riesling and Viognier making up the bulk of the vineyard which now covers 33 acres (13.5 hectares).
A landscape captured through wine
John first planted Shiraz at Clonakilla in 1972. Through the seventies and eighties the Shiraz was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in traditional Australian style. In 1990 it was decided to keep the Shiraz component separate. The Clonakilla 1990 Shiraz went on to win one silver, two gold and two trophies in three showings. James Halliday described it as “a tour de force in spicy/peppery varietal character”. Needless to say, the Kirks began to see Murrumbateman Shiraz in a new light.