Tuesday, December 6, 2011


- Canberra District
- $26-$33
- Screwcap
- 12.0%alc

Summer's well and truly arrived in Adelaide, so it's about time I started seriously smashing down some new season's rieslings (responsibly smashing, of course). Over the next 3 nights I'll be looking at 3 of my very favourite Australian riesling labels - from 3 completely different states. The first model down the runway is a Canberra classic celebrating its 40th anniversary, from a maker that's probably better known for other things.

A little withdrawn and youthful yet rather stylish and blessed by a tight, steely minerality and a note of talcum powder, Clonakilla's 2011 blows a calm air of gentle, floral lavender scents over its cleanly restrained varietal fruits, which reflect white pear/apple flesh and lime pith. In a fashion typical of young riesling, its shapely, persistent palate actually contradicts its calm aromatics, by releasing a more sour-citric flavour profile empowered by its youthful intensity and brashness. It's long, racy and assertive, growing with a mouth-puckering sourness that does suggest some sweet 'n' sour aspects, but it's saved by an impressively long finish, drawn out by vivacious, lemony acids and a cascading flow of lime juice.

ΓΌ Perhaps moving away from some of Clonakilla's recent, chalkier offerings (which were probably more my style), the 2011 is a more sour-citric, yet varietally intense riesling, crafted well from a cool, wet season and set well for the cellar. Having said that, there certainly isn't anything wrong with cracking one now, especially if the mercury's creeping towards 100. Drink to 2021.
92 points


  1. Hi Chris,

    Really looking forward to seeing the next two reviews. I'm pretty excited for a summer of riesling (it's my favourite white wine variety; at least, for now). We had the 2010 Dandelion 'Wonderland of the Eden Valley' a month or two back which was also excellent.

    But back to Clonakilla - we had one last week (after a failed mission to stock up on a few Tahblik Marsanne; this was the "well I have to go home with something" compromise). I really, really enjoyed it. It was the first Canberra region / NSW riesling I've had, and was please with how slurpable it was (though I've enjoyed other Clonakilla [red] wines, so it wasn't altogether a surprise).

    I definitely want some to cellar; to see if some sweeter/honey elements emerge after a few years. But this was also a great hot day wine; too easy to drink!

  2. Hello Teddy,

    I too look forward to a summer of riesling, as I do most years, but I'm always distracted by that irresistible beauty called Hunter semillon. Either way, it's win-win for us dry-white lovers here in Australia.... :)

    Those Dandelion rieslings are brilliant, some of the best stuff coming out of the Eden Valley at the moment IMHO, as Clonakilla is as good a place to start as there is when it comes to Canberra/NSW riesling too.

    Chris P

  3. Too true. My greatest shame may well be the somewhat deficient drinking of Hunter semillon, particularly as a former Hunter resident!

  4. I recently tried this at a Riesling tasting at the Ultimo Wine Centre in Sydney; it was quite nice, surprisingly aggressive acidity, a good long finish. However it was tasted alongside some seriously good German Rieslings, which pushed it into the shadows a bit.
    Teddy: the Canberra region produces some outstanding Rieslings; my favourite is probably Helm, although Mount Majura is also good.