Wine review — Clonakilla, Best’s, Jones Road, Kerrigan + Berry, Cardinham Estate

Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2009 $85–$100
Murrumbateman, New South Wale
Today we review two of the best arguments for growing shiraz around Canberra – two sensational Clonakilla reds from the outstanding 2009 vintage. The flagship, made from shiraz and viognier grown on Clonakilla’s original vines and the adjacent T and L vineyard, shows the brooding but silky, plush magic of shiraz co-fermented with viognier. It’s denser and more concentrated than the O’Riada, with a fine, more tannic bite. Our bottle revealed new levels of flavour every day, for five days – suggesting a long cellar life. Recommended drinking from 2015.

Clonakilla Canberra District O’Riada Shiraz 2009 $45
Murrumbateman, NSW, and Hall, ACT

Winemaker Tim Kirk sources fruit for O’Riada (a shiraz-viognier blend) from four vineyards: Phil Williams’ at Hall, and Long Rail Gully, Ravensworth and Quarry Hill at Murrumbateman. The blend also contains estate-grown material from barrels that don’t make the cut for the flagship blend. O’Riada’s slightly leaner than the flagship and the tannins are less apparent. It shows a pleasing hint of stalkiness from the use of whole bunches in the ferment. But this is just seasoning in an aromatic, juicy, silk-smooth, medium-bodied wine of great complexity.  Though lovely now, it’s another long-term keeper.

Best’s Bin 1 Great Western Shiraz 2009 $25
Grampians, Victoria
Moving south to Great Western Victoria, we find another distinctive expression of cool-climate shiraz. We shift from Canberra’s berry, spice and savouriness to something plumper, with distinct black-pepper notes – nicely melded with vanillin oak flavours. Low yields in this warm, dry vintage also account for the unusually rich, rich, sweet fruit flavours. The wine was made by Adam Wadewitz using fruit from Best’s and other vineyards in the Great Western district. It’s ready to drink and should evolve well for about ten years.

Jones Road Pinot Gris 2009 $25
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Rob Frewer reports a big, healthy canopy on his pinot gris vines in 2009 limited the sunburn that affected many other vines in the district. Even so, the wine weighs a hefty 14 per cent alcohol, although there’s sufficient fruit flavour and texture to keep this in the background. The flavours are full, ripe and spicy and there’s a rich texture derived partly from time in old oak and partly from the natural grape tannins. It finishes slightly sweet but fresh and with a farewell tannic bite.

Kerrigan + Berry Riesling 2010 $28
Mount Barker, Great Southern, Western Australia

Michael Kerrigan and Gavin Berry made this from the cool, south-facing Langton Vineyard at Mount Barker, in Western Australia’s Great Southern region. The cool site shows in the lemony varietal aroma and tight acid structure of the wine; and the vine age (1970s) will be partly responsible for the great depth and length of fruit flavour. This is a delightful, unevolved wine that works well now as a bracing aperitif and should evolve over time, taking on honey and toasty flavours and developing a richer texture.

Cardinham Estate Shiraz 2008 $20
Clare Valley, South Australia

The Cardinham vineyard, founded by Fred Dinham in1981, carries on today, considerably expanded, with a new, 500-tonne capacity winery and in the hands of Dinham’s grandchildren – Shane Smith as boss, and Scott Smith making the wine, with help from Brett Stevens. Cardinham offer tremendous value as seen in this pure, appealing shiraz. It’s bright and vibrant – the varietal flavour at the ripe, black cherry end of the spectrum, with well-judged oak adding palate weight and complexity.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010