Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2021 edition article, My Top 20: Viognier Beyond The Rhone (see blue link below).
Clonakilla, Canberra District Viognier 2018 - February 2021 Decanter review
Dr John Kirk planted the Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of Dr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.
The fruit comes from two adjacent, family-owned vineyards just outside the village of Murrumbateman in the cool Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Murrumbateman's elevation is 600 metres above sea level. 'Canberra District' is the official geographical indicator for the winegrowing district around Canberra, Australia's capital city.
2018 brought some challenges in the vineyard throughout the growing season. A hailstorm on the 9th January caused damage and reduced the size of the crop. Fortunately rhe vines recovered well and a brilliant ripening season followed with ideal weather in the late summer and early autumn. The remaining fruit was harvested in excellent condition and full of intense flavours.
28% whole bunches were used in the ferments with the remaining fruit destemmed and crushed before being added to the fermentation tanks. All parcels were co-fermented with 6% Viognier for a period of 18 to 21 days on skins. The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak, of which 30% was new with the remainder a combination of one, two and three-year old barrels.
Generous aromas of ripe red berries, roses, violets, and layers of spice are on the nose. This wine is classically medium bodied with firm tannins framing more complex fruit flavours on the palate. It is restrained yet powerful, with superb length and texture.