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Clonakilla Riesling 2017

Clonakilla Riesling 2017

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£26.99
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"Sourced from the estate and one other local grower, the 2017 Riesling is a tight, linear, lemon-lime example. It's medium-bodied and dry, with a long, wet-stone finish. It should prove capable of aging a decade or more. Drink: 2018-2030. 90 points

This is the winery that put the Canberra District on the world wine map. It seems almost redundant to write a long intro, given how often it's been written up in The Wine Advocate before, but for those who don't know the story, here's a quick summary. John Kirk, a plant scientist who arrived from Ireland in 1968, purchased the farmstead that would become Clonakilla and started planting vines in 1971. He produced the region's first commercial wines in 1976. While those first plantings were small, the estate has since grown to 13.5 hectares (33 acres).

John's son, Tim, joined the company in 1986. He's now the winemaker and general manager. Following a trip to the Rhône Valley in 1991, and partly inspired by Dr. Bailey Carrodus and his Yarra Yering Dry Red No 2, the Kirks began cofermenting Viognier with their Shiraz in 1992. Since then, the wine's been widely acclaimed as one of Australia's finest.

From a single northeast-facing block, the winery also produces a tiny quantity of straight Syrah. This tends to be darker fruited and more powerful, but I typically prefer the Shiraz-Viognier for its greater degree of elegance and ease of drinking.

While I've admired the wines for close to two decades, this was my first chance to visit the property. Tim showed me a dizzying array of barrel samples, clearly illustrating the micro differences that exist within the estate vineyards, based on aspect, clone, rootstock and more. Those dozens of lots are then blended into the final Shiraz-Viognier blend. We tasted a mini vertical of that wine, and I've included those reviews as part of this report, both out of interest to readers who've cellared some of these gems and for insight for prospective purchasers wondering how the wines evolve. With the exception of the 2002, all of the wines reviewed were under screwcap, which should be reassuring to collectors."

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (01/18)