Encouraged by the success of the Shiraz Viognier, Clonakilla’s Tim Kirk decided to release a new wine, beginning with the 2006 vintage -- a straight Shiraz from the same estate vines that produce the Shiraz Viognier. It was named ‘Syrah’, the French name for Shiraz. The winemaking is simple. A single fermenter is filled with the best Shiraz from the north-east facing T&L vineyard.
The whole berries (no stems) are fermented warm by native yeasts. They then spend up to a month macerating on skins followed by 18 months maturation in French oak, one-third new. The Syrah is typically a darker, more brooding wine than the Shiraz Viognier, with a distinct wild berry and potent spice character. This is Clonakilla’s ‘Hermitage’ to the Shiraz Viognier’s ‘Côte Rôtie’. Total production is no more than 300 dozen each year.
Deepish red colour with a purple tinge. The bouquet is wonderfully complex, aromatic and fragrant, with a mixture of spices and red and darker fruits, violets and other flower scents. Very intense flavour on the mid-palate, finely-textured and long, with a resonant aftertaste. Tremendous persistence. A formidable wine of great aging potential. Drink 2017-2040. 97 points, Real Review (5/2015)
The colour is a youthfully bright, deep red/purple; the aromas are superb – fragrant spices and pepper, red and darker fruits in the background. The palate has great intensity, texture and refinement, power and length. More weight and power than the Shiraz Viognier: a more masculine style, if you like. Drink 2017 to 2043. 97 points, Real Review (4/2015).
Deeply scented with heady aromas of blue and red flowers, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and fresh, faintly dusty cedar/vanilla oak, this spotlessly elegant and supremely balanced Shiraz reveals dusty, faintly stalky nuances of dried herbs, white pepper, cloves and cinnamon. It's luscious and brightly lit with a pastille-like presence of small berries, violets and sweet cedar/chocolate newish oak underpinned by firm, powdery tannins, extending with remarkable length towards a lingering finish of intense fruit and mouth-watering acids. 96 points, jeremyoliver.com
What is the famed Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier like sans the Viognier? Answer is, especially now that we’ve had a handful of vintages: probably an even better wine. This 2013 release is both charming and stern. It’s pretty and perfumed but bitter and nutty as well. Now or later, it has both time frames covered. Dark cherry, deli meats, anise, woodsmoke and assorted spices. It has sweet, almost stonefruit-like aspects; dried stone fruits, undergrowthy and sweet at once. And yet it’s an essentially savoury wine. In short, it’s a beautiful expression of both the region and of the grape. Drink 2015-2033.
96 points, Wine Front
'From the warmest spot on the estate, the top half of TL Block, planted '99. Destemmed, not crushed; wild ferment, no viognier; 1 months on skins; 15 months in very tight grain French oak (33% new). The bright colour and fragrant bouquet introduce an exceptionally complex wine, fruit and tannins embracing each other, framed by quality oak. Will develop and live for decades.' 96 points, Wine Companion.
Vines were first planted in the Canberra District in 1971 near Lake George by Dr Edgar Riek. The district is roughly divided into two areas, one in the Yass Valley around Murrumbateman and the other around Lake George and Bungendore. Canberra District has a cool continental climate with hot dry summers necessitating irrigation. A region of rolling hills, with elevations varying between 300 and 800 metres, means that spring frost is a real hazard, making site selection crucial. Small producers dominate the region, making handcrafted, high-quality wines particularly from Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.
The story of Clonakilla is one of risk and ingenuity, of vision, generosity and faith. Founded in 1971, Clonakilla grew from a small, struggling boutique winery in the marginal wine region of Murrumbateman to become an icon of ultra-fine Australian wine. Under the skilled winemaking of Chief Winemaker Tim Kirk, Clonakilla’s remarkable flagship wine, the Langton’s Classified ‘Exceptional’ Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier has risen to become a definitive example of its genre. Clonakilla also produces a number of superb whites including Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier alongside its range of superbly crafted cool climate reds.