Category Archives: Wine Tasting Notes

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.

O’Reilly’s Shiraz and Wine Tasting at Tambourine Mountain

Last weekend, we travelled south and slightly inland from the Gold Coast (Queensland, Australia) to an area known as Tambourine Mountain.

This area is home to the ‘Granite belt’ and a good deal of Queensland’s wine producers. Queensland is not widely known for it’s wine producers, so we had mixed expectations heading into the region.

The net result? Just as conflicting. We tasted a number of releases from three vineyards in the region: Witches Falls Wines, Heritage Wines and O’Reilly’s Wines.

The Heritage has a very tidy release known as the Rabbit Fence (Cabernet Sauvignon/2005) which I think I rightly placed as a decent drinking red (tasty, but a little room to mature.. chocolate undertones not too strong or too passive), at a reasonable price ($16/bottle). We bought four bottles to take home.

Whilst at the Heritage (which is based on a converted church!) I tasted the O’Reilly’s Shiraz (2005) and it wasn’t bad at all. Still too young, but with lots of growth potential, it made me want to drive home and open the 2002 O’Reilly’s I’ve had down since 2004!

We lastly visited Witches Falls vineyard. By this time I sampled just the Sav Blanc (skipped the other whites), Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. A minibus full of tourists dropped in before I could sample their reserve Cabernet (which was a trophy winner evidently) but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the non-reserves. The Sauvignon Blanc was not sweet but sour, bland and too much acid, unbalanced is an understatement – not a great way to kick off the tasting. The Cabernet and Shiraz were both too unrefined to merit attention.

I’m not sure whether the climate is just unsuitable to sustaining a matured red, or perhaps it is a symptom of experimentation and growth? We might try them again in a years’ time. Staff were rather friendly and attentive.