Regions >New South Wales > Southern NSW zone >Canberra region

: Clonakilla



Crisps Lane, Murrumbateman, 2582

Cellar Door: Daily (10-5)

Ph: (02) 6227 5877

Clonakilla wines from the Hilltops region

Olabelne of Australia's greatest small wineries. Murrumbateman's Clonakilla is both a pioneering winery for the region and also the flagship for the region's potential to produce ultra-premium boutique wines.

It was founded in 1971 by Dr. John Kirk, who has now passed the reins over to son, Tim, with no loss to the outstanding quality.

The winery is famous for its herbally black cherry and cranberry Shiraz Viognier that is now widely respected one of Australia's most iconic wines.

The elegant Viognier is also one of Australia's most sought after examples of the variety. The Ballinderry red blend is also pretty good. Clonakilla also produces a tightly structured and tingly Riesling and a good value second tier Shiraz sourced from the Hilltops region.

Much of the 2007 vintage was wiped out by frost but the last couple of vintages have been kinder

Clonakilla cellar door
Clonakilla's modest little cellar door (photo: genxywines)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

New reviews

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2015

Purchased: Not ($110)

Drink: 2027

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, floral and detailed with some whole bunch fermentation and well integrated Viognier co-ferment, supple blackberry, red cherries and blueberry with violet and rose petal florals, a touch of fennel in there as well, supple and medium bodied with a savoury and cedar/dark chocolate (*****)

Clonakilla Riesling 2016

Purchased: Blackheart and Sparrows, East Brunswick ($32)

Drink: 2018 or 2026+ if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, one of my regular summer buys, floral granny smith apple, passionfruit and lime with rose petal and citrus blossom notes, attractive talcy mineral spine and crunchy mandarin nuanced acidity, bright with a focussed line and excellent steely persistence (*****)  

Clonakilla Nouveau Viognier 2016>

Purchased: Not ($29)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, unlike the premium this is fermented entirely in stainless steel and is meant for early consumption, fresh peach and pear with a dusting of musky spice and apricot blossom florals, taut and chalky with vibrant citrus acid (***1/2)

Clonakilla Riesling 2015

Purchased: Blackheart and Sparrows, East Brunswick ($32)

Drink: 2017 or 2026 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting:  Jan 2016, Champion Wine at Canberra and Region Wine Show 2015, bright floral aroma, pure granny smith apple, pear and lime with fennel and citrus blossom notes, assertive minerality and powdery phenolics, has excellent line and length, steely finish with a firm but not overwhelming acid spine (*****)

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2013

Purchased:  Not ($100)

Drink: 2026+

(GXY) Tasting: June 2015,  from a warmer vintage, 5% Viognier co-ferment, a touch more plush than the last couple of vintages but is still elegant, focussed and medium bodied, pure core of blackberry pastille and black cherry wrapped in silky redcurrants and black pepper, foresty with rose petal and violet florals,  excellent length with tightly knit, fine tannins and well judged acidity (*****) 

Clonakilla Syrah 2013

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2027+

(GXY) Tasting: June 2015, small release from a single vineyard block on the estate, heady perfume, deep set and lush blackberry pastille, redcurrant, sage and violets with emergent forest floor and savoury meat aspects, the mainly new cedar/vanilla oak also brings some clove to the lingering finish, firm chassis of dusty tannins, built for the long haul  (*****)

Clonakilla O’Raida Shiraz 2013

Purchased:  Not ($40)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: June 2015, mix of estate, Murrumbateman and Hall fruit, about a 5% Viognier co-ferment, silky core of black cherry, raspberry and plum with rose petal florals, and peppery spices,  linear and earthy medium bodied palate with some savoury meatiness on the finish, balanced acidity and mocha/clove oak (****)

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2013

Purchased: Blackheart and Sparrows, Brunswick ($30)

Drink: 2015 or 2024 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, powerful and complex bouquet, warm vintage generosity without compromising the focus and balance, brightly flavoured granny smith apple, lime and lemon sherbet with fennel, citrus blossom, brown spice and aniseed notes, long and talcy palate with crunchy grapefruit and a touch of steel on the finish (*****)

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2012

Purchased: Not ($100)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, pre-release tasting with wine-maker Tim Kirk, another cool, wet vintage although not as challenging as 2011, the 2012 wine at this stage reminds me of the 2010, silky, quite perfumed and medium bodied core of red cherries, and raspberry with rose petal and violet florals, the palate that opens up to greater savoury/earthy complexity with fennel/stalky nuances, underpinned with a finely structured backbone of dusty tannins, the Viogner co-ferment has been pared back to 5% to match the more elegant style, very long and well composed with integrated cedar/vanilla oak (*****)

Clonakilla Viognier 2012

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, well balanced and moderately creamy partial barrel fermented style with apricot, glazed pear, apples and chamomile with varietal ginger spice and some cinnamon/clove oak spice, flavoursome but not oily or unctuous, modest powdery phenolics that are fully ripe, well judged lemony acidity, the Viognier excels in these milder vintages and the 2012 stands up well against the top Condrieu Viogniers I tasted alongside this (*****)

Clonakilla Ceoltori Grenache Mourvedre 2011

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: July 2013, rather limited release, there is a bit of Shiraz in this as well but it is no Barossa GSM look-a-like, this is from a cold vintage in a cool region but is not un-ripe, juicy and quite savoury, medium bodied red cherry and blackberries with anise, black pepper, leather and iris notes, some dark earth on the palate as well, the nutmeg/milk chocolate/cedar oaking is fairly overt with some grainy tannins on the finish, short-medium term cellaring (****)

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2012

Purchased: Blackheart and Sparrow, Brunswick, Vic ($30)

Drink:2014 or 2022+ if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2013, penetrating and intensely flavoured backbone of lime-edged apple and lemon sherbert with lavender florals, spice and anise notes, very long and minerally with vibrant grapefruit acidity on the steely finish, focussed and balanced (*****)

Clonakilla Viognier 2011

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting:  Nov 2012, barrel fermented style, less opulent than the drought vintages, fleshy and slightly waxy tangerine and apricot with ginger, clove, cinnamon and chamomile notes, savoury and flinty finish, some phenolic grip, nicely balanced without getting cloying (****1/2)

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010

Purchased: Not ($100)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2011, more red fruited and lighter than the recent drought affected vintages with the Viognier presence a touch more overt due to the less intense Shiraz without being excessive, perfumed, silky fruited, dusty textured and medium bodied core of red cherry, raspberry with plum with rose petal, fennel and cracked black pepper notes, a spine of elegant but penetrating tannins, finishes with savoury meat and citrus rind acidity (*****)

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2011

Purchased: Not ($30)

Drink: 2013 or 2022+ if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2011, long and tautly shaped but intensely flavoured lime, apple and lemon sherbert with pronounced lavender florals and subtle anise notes, minerally with penetrating grapefruit acidity (****)

Clonakilla O’Riada Syrah 2010

Purchased: Not ($40)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2011, this O’Raida has a 5% Viognier input, fragrant and moderately intensely flavoured cherry, plum and cranberry with violet, musk and cracked black pepper notes, silky and medium bodied with fine, powdery and savoury tannins and creamy mocha/nutmeg/clove oak, fresh citrussy acidity (****)

Clonakilla Nouveau Viognier 2011

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2011, unlike the premium Viognier this is fermented in stainless steel and is best drunk as fresh as possible, spicy and fresh pear and apricot with crisp lemon acids, fine and chalky texture, quite long and linear although lacking complexity of the premium (***1/2)

Clonakilla Viognier 2009

Purchased: Not ($A45)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, firmer and quite a different flavour profile from the top end Condrieus I tasted this alongside but better than most local examples, floral, opulent and slightly oily tangerine and apricot with ginger, clove and musk notes, savoury-infused texture with a talcy finish and firmish tannins for a white wine (****1/2)

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2010

Purchased: Not ($25)

Drink: 2012 or 2018 if you like it toasty

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2010, Gold Medal at Canberra Regional Wine Show 2010, one of the better recent vintages apart from some heavy February rains, long, shapely with good intensity, apple and lime with touch of mandarin, lavender and dried aniseed, fine minerality leads to a focussed wet slate finish (****1/2)

Clonakilla Ballinderry 2008

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Sept 2010, blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot, tarry and concentrated plum, blackcurrant and anise with some unavoidable stewed and blocky aspects from the warm, drought vintage, plenty of grainy texture, finishes with smoky cedar and firm tannic grip (***1/2)

Clonakilla Murrumbateman Syrah 2008

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2010, from the same Murrumbateman vines that go into the iconic Shiraz Viognier, dense, minerally and tarry core of blackberry and cranberry fruit with violet and savoury roast meat nuances, the palate is only medium bodied but shows great intensity, complexity and balance, long and chewy tannins are deeply infused into the structure, spicy cinnamon-vanilla oak (****1/2)

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2008

Purchased: Cloudwine, South Melbourne ($80)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, 20% whole bunch inclusion with a co-ferment with 6% Viognier, a mild February and warm autumn lets this shine after the frost and drought devastated 2007 vintage, quite aromatic and briary with a tight entry of blackberry and cranberry that opens up to a cascade of violet, savoury meats, tar, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and musk, fine chalky tannins with a variety of top quality French oak treatments (Francois Ferres, Taransaud, Sirgue and Mercurey) leading to the savoury finish, long and elegant (*****)

Clonakilla Viognier 2008

Purchased: Cloudwine, South Melbourne ($50)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, a delightful viscous and savoury example with fresh and vibrant apricot, pear and tangerine with opulent musk, cinnamon and ginger notes, fine chalky lemon and mandarin acids underpin the lingering and spicy finish, controlled phenolics, a touch of spirity rawness on the finish is the only flaw, worth putting in the cellar for another two or three years (****1/2)

Clonakilla Jack Reidy Shiraz 2009

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, limited release mainly for the Vintage Cellars chain, small Viognier input, perfumed and spicy blackberry, cranberry with anise and violet notes, a tarry and minerally palate with loose-knit but gravelly tannins, rich coffee-cedar-vanilla oak support, good length and plenty of character (****)

Clonakilla O’Raida Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($45)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, the O’Raida first came out as essentially declassified fruit from the premium Shiraz Viognier in the horror 2007 vintage (there was only a tiny around of the premium release), the second tier has come out again despite the much better vintage, it shares the spicy and savoury blackberry, cranberry and musk complexity of the premium although the perfume and spice is a bit more demure and less exotic, medium-full bodied with loose knit and grainy tannins, creamy mocha-cedar oak (****)

Clonakilla Jack Reidy Canberra District Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Vintage Cellars, South Melbourne ($30)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: June 2009, special release exclusive to the Vintage Cellars chain, perfumed blackberry, black cherry and cranberry with clove, anise and black pepper notes, only medium bodied but has intense fruit expression of the better Shiraz from the region, good earthy texture that gets almost gritty in some places and adds interest, lingering powdery tannins with well balanced cedar-vanilla oak (****)

Clonakilla Canberra Shiraz Viognier 2006

Purchased: Not ($80)

Drink: 2014+

(GXY) Tasting: June 2007, two weeks after release, I was worried that the 6% Viognier component might be too much, usually more than 4-5% results in an apricot slush rather than the herbally nectar wonder of great Northern Rhone blends, winemaker Tim Kirk was spot on as usual as his Viognier is quite delicate and the Shiraz is packed with rich herbal and spice expression, the nose is highly perfumed and aromatic, the palate is built around a tightly knit core of blackberry, red cherry and cranberry fruit with a rich array of dried herb and black pepper features, the Viognier brings subtle apricot, cinnamon and ginger complexity and added texture without dumbing down the structure into the bland apricot smoothness of inferior blends, the cedar-vanilla oak adds savoury complexity to the finish, firm but balanced tannins are there as track record shows the wine will develop even further with another six or seven years cellaring, justifiably one of the national benchmarks for a style that few in Australia do really well (*****)

Clonakilla Canberra Viognier 2006

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: June 2007, green-yellow colour, elegant style with the 100% barrel ferment adding texture without over-pumping it, spicy pear and apricot with all the ginger, cinnamon and clove complexity you could expect from this variety, the seamless palate is viscous and slightly oily but has not subverted the minerally undercarriage, crisp lemon citrus acids feature on the lingering finish, I still haven't tasted a better balanced Australasian Viognier (*****)

Clonakilla Canberra Ballinderry 2004

Purchased: Cloudwine, South Melbourne ($29)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2006, Ballinderry is Irish for °place of oak' to celebrate the oak tree planted by founder John Kirk in 1971, blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Cabernet Franc and 12% Merlot, concentrated blackberry and cherries with leafy and minty/menthol features, earthy plate is framed with slight smoky liquorice and chocolate cedar oak, stern acid and fine grained tannic finish, lots of potential but still a bit disjointed and young, needs time, but should mellow out to a harmonious complexity although watch out for the sediment (****)

(G) Tasting: Aug 2006, comments on flavours ranged from plum to red cherry with minty or leafy features, the palate was described as earthy or leathery or as having tobacco features, the highly tannic finish was also commented on (range *** to ****) (average 3.4 stars)

Clonakilla Canberra Shiraz Viognier 2004

Purchased: Not ($75)

Drink: 2012+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2006, very aromatic nose, tightly structured cassis, redcurrant and cranberry fruit with a of fennel, clove, anise and black pepper features, the perfectly judged Viognier adds delicate apricot, cinnamon and ginger texture, savoury cedar-vanilla oak firm but balanced tannins are there with a touch of liquorice, lives up to the hype and price (*****)