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Extended tasting note 11
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2004 and Riesling 2004 Canberra District, Australia  

The setting: it's a lovely warm Canberra evening, and as the sun dips the gum trees are lit up in generous, warm tones of orange and brown. Fittingly, as I sit on my balcony, I'm drinking two wines from Cabnerra district producer Clonakilla. 

I begin with the Clonakilla Riesling 2004. It's a good yellow colour - deeper than I'd have expected - with the intense limey nose showing some honeyed depth. It's unmistakeably an Australian Riesling: the savoury, limey character gives it away. On the palate it is concentrated and bright, with tightwound, savoury limey fruit and good acidity.

There's real precision and focus to this wine. It's full flavoured and savoury, combining delicacy with power. It's crying out for a fresh sea bass, grilled with just a touch of olive oil and some gentle seasoning. Or big juicy prawns. 

What do you want from Riesling? This is quite perfumed, but it's much more substantial than say a Mosel Riesling. What I like about Australian Riesling (and Austrian Riesling, for that matter) is that residual sugar isn't needed to counter the acidity. New Zealand Rieslings, for example, almost always have some residual sugar: they taste dry, but that's because of the balancing effect of the acidity. The sugar plumps up and rounds out the palate, sometimes at the expense of complexity or finesse.

Moving on to the Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2004. This is their famous wine. There's a hiccup as the tamper-proof bridges on the screwcap won't snap and the whole thing comes off in one piece, sleeve and all. I pour a glass: it's a little warm, but immediately it's offering magical perfume of sweet, ripe blackberry fruit. Chilled down just a touch, there's more definition on the nose: more floral Syrah notes emerge, along with complex spices. 

The palate is beautifully focused with generous, lush raspberry fruit and nice complexity. Some savoury tannins add bite to the lush fruit, and there are subtle tar and vanilla elements in the background. There's also some Syrah pepperiness. This is a fantastic wine, up there with Australia's best. I wouldn't say it is European in style, but it has an elegance that hints a bit at the Northern Rhône. Catch one if you can: this wine sells out fast, but in the UK Enotria have some. 

Other ETNs:
; Roc des Anges; Gaillard; Veratina; Arturo; Wynns; Drystone; Foundry and Columella; Meruge; Foillard Morgon; Clonakilla

tasted 03/06

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