February 2, 2023

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

Who makes it?

Clonakilla, being one of the first vineyards planted, is an integral part of the modern era of Canberran vinous history. After John Kirk planted his vineyards in 1971, he then released the first wine for sale in the Murrumbateman region in 1976.  The nation’s capital is now well established as a cool climate wine region, gaining renown for riesling and for excellent shiraz.

This particular blend became part of Clonakilla’s regular line up in 1992 after Tim Kirk was inspired by a trip through Cote Rotie the previous year. There, Tim visited family producer Guigal. Naturally, he visited Guigal’s, indeed some of that region’s, most esteemed vineyards of La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque.

 How do they make it?

Having already planted viognier previously in 1986, it was not hard at all to take that step to co-ferment it with their shiraz.  Undoubtedly this shiraz which has won acclaim across the world. That very first vintage set tongues wagging. Consequently, this blend has earned its place as a benchmark for the style in Australia.

The 2019 Shiraz Viognier was co-fermented with 6% viognier. The 2021 Shiraz Viognier was co-fermented with 5% Viognier.

What does it taste like?

The 2021 vintage gives this red blend its typical bright hue and a a faint herbal mint and earthiness to the already peppery and lushly ripe plum and blue berry fruit and vanilla spice. Still some floral notes as well.  The fruit is vivacious and detailed and its fleshy weight wraps around some spicy oak that in no way dominates. However, this wine is not just about fruit. The tannin is shapely and very fine indeed.  

This is a wine that is well worth keeping for a decade if you can. It goes without saying though, that it is a wine where enjoyability rates highly, even in its youth.

What to drink it with?

Don’t just stick with roast meats here, some game sausages or a venison stew will also be very good here.


A good quality cheddar will work really well here. And truffle cheddar would be an excellent choice too.

Quickie review «Bright, bright cherry, berry fruit with that peppery lift that lovers of this blend look for. Shapely plush tannins doesn’t let the fruit steal the show.»

Country of Origin: Canberra, Australia
Tasting Date:
July 2021 & January 2023
Price: AU$120 | UK£70 | US$75+ 
Drink: now– 10+ years
Needs food: no
Source: tasting

If you liked the sound of this wine, why not have a look at one of these Australian biodynamic red wines.

See Clonakilla for more information.

A look back at my tasting notes of the 2009 Shiraz Viognier:

This wine is a cellar target. However, it is still very approachable now while the fruit is still vibrant & youthful. In saying that, it is tight aromatically with pepper and red & black fruit & herbs evident.  Being cool climate, the wine is medium bodied with respectable alcohol levels & finely grained tannins. Unsurprisingly, this wine offers pepper aplenty and is a great food wine. I have roast venison in mind. (16/03/2011)

A look back at the tasting note for the 2019 vintage:

This gives this red blend its typical bright hue and a floral rose and raspberry perfume plus an extra pinch of pepper (black and white) to the already peppery and lushly ripe plum and black berry fruit and vanilla spice.  


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