2019 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier Canberra

  • "It Remains a Benchmark of the Style" ~97 WE
  • Twice Awarded "Wine of The Year"
  • Consistently One of Australia’s Icon Wines
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About the Wine

The story of Clonakilla dates back to 1971 when John Kirk planted his first vines. Little did he know that this vineyard which started as a weekend hobby, one day would become one of the most celebrated wineries in the entire country.

The estate comprises 44 acres near Murrumbateman, 24 miles north of Canberra, where the soils consist of sandy clay loams over a base of decomposed granite. It was 5 years later, that Kirk released his first wines to the public, and some years after, the winery started to receive numerous trophies and high accolades.

In 1991, Kirk created the rare Rhone-inspired wine, what would eventually become the estate’s flagship wine, a unique blend of Shiraz and Viognier. He thought, “Murrumbateman (the region) and Shiraz are one of those rare combinations in the world of wine that can produce something truly exciting.”

Upon its release, this wine quickly became the talk of the town, and a critic’s favorite: Winemaker Gerald Atkinson said this was “without doubt one of the finest Canberra District reds I have ever seen. An absolute stunner.” Australian wine writer James Halliday said this is “an icon wine, one of the best in Australia.” Wine writer, Jeremy Oliver, listed it among his “Perfect 1s.” Wine specialist Andrew Caillard said this was “one of the most important advances in the development of Australian Shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange Hermitage”.

High reviews didn’t stop there, in 1999, the wine was named “New South Wales Wine of the Year” by the NSW. In 2003, it was featured as “one of Australia’s top ten Shiraz” by Gourmet Traveller Wine. In 2005, the wine appeared in the “Top 10 Australian wines produced in the last 10 years” by Australian Financial Review Magazine. In 2006, it was named “Wine of the Year” by Max Allen. In 2009, it was recognized as the “Top Shiraz” by Penguin Good Wine Guide. In 2011, it was awarded for the second time “Wine of the Year” by Jeremy Oliver’s Australian Wine Annual… this is just to name a few of the recognitions this wine has had over the years.  

Famous wine judge, Ralph Kyte-Powell said this is “consistently one of Australia’s best red wines, maybe the best.”

This Shiraz Viognier is without a doubt one of the most celebrated wines in the entire country. A benchmark in Australia’s top-quality wines. The grapes are carefully selected from the best vineyards of Shiraz and Viognier from the Murrumbateman vineyard. The result is pure magic.

Aging: 18 months in French barriques. 

Tasting Notes: 94% Shiraz, 6% Viognier. Opulent aromas of roses, violets, and layered spices, ripe berries of every hue. Perfectly formed tannins frame complex fruit flavors across the palate. This wine will age magnificently. Pair it with roasted chicken and sauteed mushrooms.


Clonakilla’s Shiraz-Viognier was one of the first of its kind, ushering in a new era of more delicately aromatic and succulent Shiraz Down Under. It remains a benchmark of the style. The color of cherry juice, it’s beautifully perfumed, with aromas of rose petals and white pepper atop earthier, meatier notes. Warm stone undertones back freshly squeezed raspberry, cherry, and cranberry juice. In the mouth, there’s a succulence to the brambly fruit that comes like the pop of a fresh red berry in the mouth. Crunchy acidity and the raspy power of sappy, fine tannins add structure and complexity. This is finely crafted and distinctly cool climate Aussie wine that drinks well now. ~97 Wine Enthusiast

It spent 18 months in oak, rather than its usual 12. Oak’s presence in the wine is no more than usual; if anything it simply feels more harmonious. To be released in March, I think. In any case, this is a wonderful release. It leaps from the glass with wonder on its lips. Plums and florals and spices and meats take a walk through a garden, woodsmoke suggested summer alive. It’s elegant and refined and yet it’s all there, it’s all open.It gets you in the feels; it has a kind of satiny confidence like it knows that it’s good and it knows that you’ve noticed. Fine fingers of tannin, curry leaf notes, berries. Florals here as mentioned but maybe not as pronounced as usual, as if viognier and shiraz have become one. Still, there’s nothing reserved about this wine. Nothing. It’s just all there, ready, perfect. ~96 The Wine Front

The 2019 Shiraz Viognier is from a low-yielding (down around 15% to 20%), warm and dry year with some well-timed summer rain that allowed the vines to produce bright, lively fruit. The warm year brought higher alcohol with it (14.6% alcohol as opposed to the 13.2% of 2021), but the same 6% Viognier inclusion remains. The wine was matured for 18 months in French oak. Where the 2021 is bright, delicate, and lacy, this 2019 is denser, muscular, and layered with dark, brooding, exotic spices, cocoa nib, licorice root, roasted meat rind, and tobacco leaf. In the mouth, the tannins are the most pertinent feature: still powdery fine, and shapely, earthy (black), and savory. At no point does any feature of the wine break ranks. There are no strays, and no breakaways; this is seamless and contained from all angles. It is an astounding wine and proof that very quickly after release these wines morph into shades of what they will become in older age. ~95+ Wine Advocate

Some wines have such distinct DNA. This is one of them. It packs so many layers of flavor and depth, yet never moves much beyond the medium body. It smells of a souk market; spicy, peppery, and exotic. It's replete with dark fruit, wood char, and a touch of wintergreen. Raw silk tannins matched to a neat acid line give freshness, vibrancy and a promise it will last some distance yet. ~95 James Halliday

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