Tag Archives: Riesling

2011 Citibank NSW Wine Awards

Wine Awards

Last night Aussie Wine Guy and his assistant good friend Paul made their way to Circular Quay, by the harbour side in the Sydney Central Business District.  Our destination: the Cargo Hall of the Overseas Passenger Terminal where this year’s CitiBank NSW Wine awards were held.

From around the NSW wine producing regions, 40 “best of the best” assembled to be at the mercy of the discriminating palate of (presumably) select Citibank customers, as well as Aussie Wine Guy and company.

Upon arrival we were presented with our complimentary (and branded) wine sampling glass, and after some brief chatting, we began our wine tasting journey through New South Wales.

The hall was arranged counter-clockwise, so that a wine enthusiast could navigate 180 degrees from right to left and taste the various wines in the most appropriate aromatic combination (whites to reds to dessert, no fortifieds).

Starting in the Canberra district (and greater area) we began the evening in  the mixed company of white wines – Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Hunter Semillon.  Highlights were Thomas Wines’ (Hunter) 2006 Semillon (Trophy for best mature dry white), Ballabourneen’s (Hunter) 2011 Majors Lane Semillon and Thistle Hill (Mudgee) 2011 organic Riesling (winner of an Australia’s best organic wine trophy).

We also joked with a lively couple from the Hunter’s Mistletoe Wine, enjoying their trophy winning 2009 Chardonnay (wine of the year).

After an hour of white wine (and lively debate, chatting with the winemakers) we switched to Red, starting with the Centennial (Southern Highlands) 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir (showing signs of being a very well rounded wine) and onwards towards First Creek Wines (Hunter) who nabbed the award for best young Shiraz with their 2010 Winemaker’s reserve Shiraz.

Highlights from the second half of our evening include Ravensworth (Canberra/Murrumbateman) 2009 Shiraz Viognier (channelling  similar magic to Clonakilla) and the Italian inspired 2004 Secco Aged Release Rondinella Corvina from Freeman Vineyards (Hilltops), which had a drop of inspiration added to peppery overtones and spices.

We finished the evening on De Bortoli’s 2008 Noble One (Trophy, Best Sweet White) and with surprising Riverina region winemaker Lillypilly and their fragrant and pleasantly surprising Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis (Family Reserve) which had one of the most sweet and delectable bouquets of a dessert wine we’ve had the pleasure to sample.

More notes to follow.

Sydney Wine-Ark Tasting Evening (Part 3)

Clonakilla Logo

Continuing our series of wine tastings from last week’s Wine-Ark Cellar Club tasting event, we enter the final tastings of the evening, introduced by Canberra winemaker Tim Kirk himself.

Tim spoke to the audience for a few minutes, giving us an insight into what motivates him as a wine maker.  It is evident that the French style of wine making and the French philosophy of matching the grape varieties to the land (or terroir, such as in Bordeaux) is a heavy influence.

In his own terms, he likes to craft his wine differently from the ‘tubthumping’ reds of the mid-90s, i.e. the full powered, Robert Parker inspired, super reds.  With the most recent vintages, he emphasized the importance of the skin depth, and noted that they had observed a cooler climate as the drought broke recently.

Anyhow, Tim’s introduction was quite inspiring and before long we were drawing our glasses for the final four tastings of the evening.  Without any further adieu, the notes.

2011 – Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling   

This Riesling when compared to the Best’s Great Western beforehand, was a lot more restrained in terms of sugar.  Pale gold in colour, a hint of – is it – kiwi fruit?  Crispy, somewhat sugary – but also with a touch of savoury – a little dry with hints of other fruit.  Mineral overtones leading to a lasting tangy finish.  Enjoyed by all members of the group.

2010 – Clonakilla Canberra District Viognier

The seminal compliment to the well renown Shiraz Viognier, served individually presented with a light straw colour and a hint of strawberry in the bouquet.  Slightly tart to the taste with a hint of ginger, a balanced body leading to a medium length aftertaste.  Enjoyed by one of our three in the group.

2010 – Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz

The second last of the reds for the evening, the O’Riada has become a very strong drop from the Canberra region.  The colour was cherry red with a light bouquet and a decent trace of oak and tannins, well sculptured and with a soft texture.  Medium to long aftertaste, enjoyed and rated by one in the party (the others abstained to save up for the finale).

2010 – Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

The finale for the evening was the celebrated Shiraz Viognier, which has garnered well deserved attention in recent years.  Aussie Wine Guy is a frequent collector and has more than a case of the 2008 vintage in managed cellaring.

The 2010 vintage is the consummate reply to the stellar 2009 edition.  Plum red in colour, perfumed and well balanced – trim with a hint of spices (cloves?) with a long and smooth aftertaste.  A little young at the moment, will only improve with age and maturity – can’t wait to retaste in the coming years.  Enjoyed by the entire party.

Comments from the Group

Throughout the night, both members of the group added excellent and insightful comments as we tasted the various wines. 

One of our group had an interesting way of describing her tasting experiences, here’s a sample of some of her observations, for your enjoyment (to be read in reverse chronological order):

  • This one tastes like spicy eels.
  • This one tastes like a fig newton dining in a Chinese restaurant.
  • This one tastes like a clown car full of lemons.
  • This one tastes like mildly terrified beef.
  • This one tastes like a bad ballet of roses.
  • Actually it tastes like boats and hassleback boars.
  • This one tastes like ham crayons.
  • This one tastes like a butter balloon, with a hint of flowers.
  • This one tastes like arteries.
  • This one tastes like charcoal and buckyballs


It was an excellent night, and much appreciation must go to Wine-Ark Cellar Club Director Gavin Lennard, distributor James Johnson and to Tim Kirk from Clonakilla.  The Wine-Ark team did a great job putting together a great selection of wines and complimented by a lavish spread of cheeses and breads.

The evenings are always excellent value, and are held in such a splendid location.  Aussie WIne Guy earnestly hopes that he’ll be able to attend the next meeting in November.

To find out more about WIne-Ark, visit their website.

Aussie Wine Guy returns soon with additional notes from an upcoming wine tasting event, not too far away.  Check back soon.