The grapes to produce the Shiraz Viognier Canberra District Clonakilla were harvested by hand. 25% 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 four weeks on skins. The wine matured for 12 months in French oak, of which 25% was new with the remainder in a combination of one, two and three-year old barrels.
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. Soil here consists of sandy clay loams over a base of decomposed granite.
Clonakilla is one of the leading estates in Australia, with an enviable reputation for Shiraz/Viognier. Clonakilla means ‘meadow of the church’ in Gaelic and is the name of the founder’s grandfather’s farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1971, Dr John Kirk planted the Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, 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. In 1991, Tim Kirk, the fourth of John’s six sons, travelled to the Rhône Valley. There he tasted a number of inspirational wines, including Marcel Guigal’s single vineyard blends. Inspired by these Côte-Rôtie wines, he began including a small amount of Viognier in the Clonakilla Shiraz from 1992. Tim took over full responsibility for winemaking at the 12 hectare family farm in 1997. Clonakilla now produces about 12,000 cases per year, which sell out year after year.