Category Archives: Region


A Visit to Clonakilla


On Saturday we visited Clonakilla out in Murrumbateman just outside of Canberra (outside the Australian National Territory).

Clonakilla has been successfully operating for a few decades now (I believe they began back in the late 70s) and have perfected arguably one of the best Shiraz/Viogner blends in the region.

We tasted the 2006 vintage and were not disappointed. It is rather hard to tell how it will age, but I’m willing to bet two bottles that it will improve and the Shiraz will mature into a well balanced and complex Shiraz. The viogner adds an interesting twist to what would be a very competitive Shiraz vintage.

Luckily (and I think for the first time?) Clonakilla have also bottled straight Syrah (which is normally blended) so we will be able to appreciate a side-by-side comparison some years down the track.

They have also started experimenting with a Bordeaux style blend, the ‘2006 Ballinderry’ which sits well on the palate (a very good ‘easy’ drinking wine) which is on par with similarly priced Bordeaux labels from France.

The Bordeaux is of a less distinguished taste (as Cabernet Sauvignon & blends tend to be when compared next to Shiraz/Syrah).

I also rate the Hilltops Shiraz which was very tidy and reasonable given the quality. If weight and carry on restrictions were not as much of an issue, I’m sure I would have purchased about four of these.

All in all, we went away with 2x Bordeaux (@ $35ea), 2x Shiraz Viogner and 1x Syrah (both at @75ea). Welcome additions to the collection. For the record, I’m a big fan of the wines and of the pricing. Recommended.

2007 Anniversary Wine – 2002 Henschke Hill of Grace

Hill of Grace In 2007 we had to make a tough choice between the outstanding 2002 Penfolds Grange and the 2002 Henschke Hill of Grace

Having tasted a variety of previous vintages of both labels, we had decided it was too close to call.  In the end, price was the deciding factor as we were able to acquire a 2002 Hill of Grace for slightly less than a Grange.

The wine is grown in Eden valley in South Australia by generations of the Henschke family.  From the official site, the following description describes the location and the history behind the name:

“Hill of Grace: this surely is one of the most evocative phrases in the world of wine. It is a translation from the German ‘Gnadenberg’, a region in Silesia, and the name given to the lovely Lutheran Church across the road.

For Henschke it is the name of both the vineyard and the wine that has so captured the heart of the red wine lover. The 8ha single vineyard on the original 32ha block sits at an altitude of 400m, and has an average rainfall of 520mm. It is situated at Parrot Hill, an isolated spot that was once an active village.”

Also from the official site, the vines planted in the vineyard are as follows:

“Shiraz (on own roots) – vines originate from pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early European settlers; riesling, semillon, mataro”

Which means that the original vines come from the mid 19th century and could be considered amongst some of the oldest in the world, since Australia was never affected by the nasty strain of phylloxera which ravaged vines in Europe and North America.