It has been a while since I wrote anything on cellar door experiences. The ease of restrictions in NSW and ACT really stimulated my drive to get away from Canberra and go to the surrounding areas so that my mind can clear out while the body is relaxing. While I was planning the weekend trip, I realised one of the most famous wine labels on the east coast, Clonakilla was reopening its cellar door on 23 Oct 2021 and here we go, a fantastic wine trip.
Clonakilla is located in Murrumbateman – Canberra’s wine district – a small town of Yass Valley tucked a 30-minute-drive away from the ACT. In Murrumbateman, most of the winery cellar doors, unlike in Barossa SA which offers free wine tasting, charges $5 -$10 per person for a structured tasting. However, Clonakilla offers free wine tasting which strongly showcases their confidence in the wine. Clonakilla was founded and established in 1971 and its their 50 years anniversary this year, most famous for their top drops – Shiraz Viognier and Syrah.
At the moment, cellar door visitors will need to book for their session before they can be confirmed to be able to do the tasting and must abide NSW COVID public health directives while at the venue, such as presenting evidence of full vaccination, checking in, masks and social distancing. For the view and air ventilation, Tina and I took an outside seat to do the wine tasting.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by our friendly cellar door staff. “Welcome back” She said – what a great way to reopen the cellar door.
Wine tasting at Clonakilla is structured. Visitors can taste all of their wines on offer, except the 2019 Syrah, which is only produced to very small vintage of 300 dozen cases.
The structured wine tasting experience on the day is something I quite enjoy. Unlike in some wineries which you got to choose what wine to taste or the wine taster will crowd over at the counter, the structured wine tasting at Clonakilla was rather a very streamlined experience. We were seated outside with the beautiful view and fresh open air and were provided with two small bottles of water to rinse the palate.
The enthusiastic cellar door staff was a highlight during this wine tasting. She obviously loves her job and was knowledgeable about their wine. We started off with the whites – Riesling, Viognier and Chardonnay and worked our way up to their reds. As a previous wine professional, my palate has been fully developed to taste the beautiful aromas of the wines. Out of their whites, my personal favourable was the French style Viognier with a hint of barrel and smooth on the palate.
As you all know, I only write my personal experience on fine food, fine wine and anything of a good experience. So for the rest of the post, I am going to specifically talk about Clonakilla’s two top wines.
2019 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, $110 per bottle.
The Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is normally refered to as the most significant milestone of the Australian Shiraz after the Penfolds Grange. I have both enjoyed the Grange (Penfolds) and Hill of Grace (Henschke) when I was in my good ol days in Adelaide. I must say I am very impressed with the 2019 Shiraz Viognier of Clonakilla. This wine showcases what a great Aussie red tastes like with strong focus on the fruity flavours on the palate and balanced tannin structure. Being in the oak for 18 months, the wine is easy on initial sips and gives creamy mouthfeel at the back of the palate. This wine is great to drink now but will reward more with time goes on.
2019 Clonakilla Syrah, $110 per bottle.
Here in Australia we don’t normally use the variety Syrah so when I heard about this wine, I was surprised with its name. What’s even more suprising is the wine itself. This is an extraordinary wine! Being fermented with the whole shiraz fruit in French oak for two years, this Syrah is one of the top wine on my list and is so powerful on the palate. It has the spicy fruit flavour, true but on top of that are its silkiness and floral noses which is so beautiful and seriously delicious. I cannot show how impressed I am with this wine. Note: The Clonakilla Syrah is only produced in extremely small vintage so get in quick to grab one. Highly recommended! You can read more about the 2019 Clonakilla Syrah here.
What did I take home from Clonakilla? – The no. 2348 2019 Syrah. It has already been placed in my cellar on the top shelf for long term reward. 🙂
Until the next post, have a great time. Since Christmas is fast approaching, I am going to write about my experience last year this time when Tina and I went back to Adelaide.