Wine review – Clonakilla, Thorn-Clarke, West Cape Howe

Clonakilla Canberra District Pinot Noir 2015 $55
Until 2014 Clonakilla blended its pinot away into other wines. But now it stands on its own, albeit in tiny quantities made from 777 and 115 clones Tim Kirk planted recently, and an unidentified clone his father John planted in 1978. The wine shows the ripe flavours and round, delicious fruit of the warm 2015 season. Winemaking influence can be tasted in an underlying earthy character, and felt in the very smooth, slick texture. The overall impression is of richness, ripeness and softness, but not at this stage the soaring perfume and firm, fine backbone we see in the best of the breed.

Thorn-Clarke Sandpiper Barossa Shiraz 2015 $13.95–$19
David Clarke and family own two vineyards in the warm Barossa Valley and two in the adjoining Eden Valley, to the east. The two regions form the Barossa Zone. The warmer Barossa Valley vineyards produce red wines, while the cooler Eden Valley produces both whites and red wines. The entry-level Sandpiper shiraz combines fruit from across the family’s vineyards. The fermentation technique captures the aromatic, fruity character of shiraz in the full-bodied, ripe, juicy style of the warm region. Round, soft tannins add to the texture of a generous, drink-now red.

West Cape Howe Western Australia Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $15.20–$17
In this delicious dry white, winemaker Gavin Berry combines fruit from two Western Australia’s areas: the vast Great Southern district (principally Mount Barker and Frankland River) and Margaret River. Winemaking in stainless steel tanks and early bottling aims to capture the fresh, fruity and distinct character of the two varieties. Herbaceous and tropical fruit flavours of the sauvignon blanc combine happily with the lemongrass-like semillon in a zippy, medium-bodied white made to drink young. Berry writes, “The season was particularly strong for sauvignon blanc. Moderate temperatures near harvest saw the delicate aromatics and fine acid structure preserved in the fruit”.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 1 May 2016 in the Canberra Times