Clonakilla Langhorne Shiraz 2002
Clonakilla was established in 1971 by John Kirk, a Canberra based research scientist. Of Irish descent, John came to Australia with his young family in 1968 to work with the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry. To his surprise despite the suitability of the environment their was no wine industry in there cool southern table lands of NSW around Canberra. To remedy this situation, in 1971 he bought a 44 acre farm near the village of Murrumbateman in New South Wales, 40 kilometres north of Canberra. The soil consisted of sandy clay loams over a friable clay subsoil and, with a climate not dissimilar to the Bordeaux region and Northern Rhone valley in France, he held high hopes for its wine producing potential. He proceeded to plant 1.2 acres each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. He named the property Clonakilla (‘meadow of the church’) after his grandfather’s farm in County Clare.
Though Syrah originated in the Rhône Valley of France, Australia is home to the oldest Syrah (called Shiraz here) vines on the planet. Found in Australia’s Barossa Valley, where phylloxera has never threated viticulture, these ancient vines are between 140 to 175 years old!
Having brought fame and merit to the country’s wine scene since the early 1950s, namely via the debut of Penfolds Grange, today Syrah (Shiraz) claims rank as the most widely planted grape in Australia. In fact, the amount of land dedicated to Shiraz in Australia is now almost equivalent to what it is in France. Australian Shiraz has its own personality with flavors and aromas of intense blackberry, fruitcake, menthol, tobacco leaf and umami. Conveniently one can find great Australian Shiraz at a variety of price points but the very best will be dense, gloriously complex and capable of long aging.