I remember the heady days when the Shiraz Viognier craze kicked off. Some were good. Some were ‘Shiraz with training-wheels’ and overtly floral. A few were excellent.
But one always stood head and shoulders above the rest and continues to be a benchmark to this day: Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier.
It was Tim Kirk’s visit to the Rhone Valley in 1991 that provided the inspiration for the Clonakilla blend. In fact the eureka moment can be narrowed down to a visit to the Guigal family winery, where Kirk tasted the 1988 single-vineyard Côte Rôties La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque from barrel. From this, a small amount of Clonakilla Shiraz was co-fermented with Viognier in 1992 and an Australian wine legend was born.
The epic 2015 release was a hard act to follow but they have backed it up with a jaw-droppingly beautiful wine. It is a pure dark and red fruit canvas dotted with hints of game, spice, herbs and violet. Supple and silky on the palate with great detail and poise, a gentle cascade of fine tannin provides support for the cellar.
I imagine a day when I sit surrounded by wide-eyed grandkids regaling them of tales of how I was around during the Great Shiraz Viognier Wars and there was only one winner — Clonakilla. It’s a beauty.
CLONAKILLA 2016 Shiraz Viognier
Header photo: David Reist