Listening to Tim Kirk, Clonakilla's winemaker, is always very interesting. Not only is he a very intelligent person, but also a very good marketer. Yet in contrast to the spin employed by many of his colleagues, he prefers to 'under-promise and over-deliver'. So you listen to all the challenges that Clonakilla had to face in 2011 and 2012 and then get to a set of very good wines. Sure, he has done better, but these are very worth while wines.
The 2012 Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling comes from a wet year. The wine is citrussy and floral, quite zingy with acid covering the small amount of residual sugar. It is not is the class of a top Clare Riesling, but a refreshing wine with a clean finish (90 points).
The 2011 Clonakilla Canberra District Viognier is a welcome departure from other 'fatty' Viogniers. It shows the expected apricot flavours, but the wine is quite linear and not big. There are traces of oak in this wine and it finishes with a good round mouthfeel. I am not sure that it is Australia's best Viognier, as it is sometimes claimed, but it is certainly a good one (92 points).
The 2011 Clonakilla O'Riada Shiraz is made in the same way as the famous Shiraz/Viognier, but the fruit comes from other growers around Canberra. This wine is incredibly peppery and savoury and quite strong. Underneath sits beautiful red berry fruit. 2011 delivers a lighter style, but not a watery wine and the tannins deliver good length (93 points).
The 2011 Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier is still peppery, but the flavours are rounder than in the O'Riada. The wine is very elegant and harmonious, dominated by red berry flavours. This wine will live a long, long time. This wine rates very high on clarity, grace, balance, deliciousness, modesty and paradox. The paradox is the lighter style, yet intensity of the wine. It would rate a bit lower on distinctiveness, persistence and complexity (95 points).
In this tasting, I 'got' the Clonakilla wine style. The wines are about beauty. The French would call them feminine wines, but they are more than that (see above).