Wine review — Ravensworth & Clonakilla

Ravensworth Murrumbateman Riesling 2008 about $18
Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2008 $25–$30

After the frost-ravaged 2007 vintage, the prolific and good 2008 vintage brought smiles of pleasure (and relief) to our local vignerons. These are two very good examples of what’s in store from our district. While they have similarities in purity of varietal expression, they have significant differences as well.  The Ravensworth wine is slightly rounder and softer than the Clonakilla, making it more suited to current drinking (though it will age well for a few years). The Clonakilla appears to be more taut, with a brisk acid backbone that carries the lovely fruit flavour across the palate – and should age very well. See www.ravensworthwines.com.au and www.clonakilla.com.au

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2007 $25–$30
Clonakilla Murrumbateman Syrah 2006 $75–$85
Clonakilla Ballinderry Canberra District 2006 $35–$40

Clonakilla’s shiraz from Hilltops (Young, NSW) has the juicy richness of pulped, ripe black cherries – a generous, chewy wine that’s certainly the big-value pick of winemaker Tim Kirk’s current line up. Ballinderry, a cabernet sauvignon–cabernet franc–merlot blend, with its core of ripe berry fruit and taut-but-soft tannins, is elegant and lovely and deserves to be quietly reconsidered away from the shirazes one day.  Syrah 2006 is Tim’s shot at the Hermitage (Rhône Valley) style. From the Clonakilla vineyard and made much like the shiraz viognier flagship (but without viognier), it’s an extraordinary drop indeed, a very pure, intense, peppery/savoury expression of shiraz.

Ravensworth Murrumbateman Shiraz Viognier 2007 about $30
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2007 $75
Clonakilla O’Riada Canberra District Shiraz 2007 $35–$40

These are all shiraz–viognier blends from the frost ravaged 2007 harvest. Tim Kirk says that he lost over ninety per cent of his crop, reducing production of the flagship Shiraz Viognier to just 150 dozen – and prompting the production of the ‘O’Riada’ a blend from the Long Rail Gully, Barton Estate, Dean Terrell and Fischer vineyards at Murrumbateman and Sue Williams’ vineyard at Hall. It’s a fragrant, fine, soft and elegant style. Bryan and Jocelyn Martin’s Ravensworth is terrifically savoury, spicy and rich – in the fine Canberra mould – and gives great value. Clonakilla, however, keeps its mantle as the model of its style. This is pure class. Pity there’s so little of it.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008

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