Clonakilla’s small batch range seems to have exploded in recent years, with little rhyme or reason to its composition – not that I mind at all having the opportunity to taste a broader range of styles coming out of this wonderful producer. Some of the wines look outside the Canberra region for fruit, but this Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro and Cinsault blend is sourced from Murrumbateman, Clonakilla’s home turf.
The aroma is all about a cool climate vibe – this is an uncompromisingly spiced wine, with a range of floral and cracked pepper-like notes blanketing a layer of red fruits. There are also fragranced orange peel dimensions and a baseline of oak that, together, frame the assertive aroma, not softening it so much as completing its range.
The palate, at this stage of the wine’s life, is driven by a firm acid line and some fairly prominent tannins, and over three days it has softened only a little. To be sure, there’s no lack of flavour; as with the aroma, this is quite driven, with an aggression to its articulation that is impressive as well as a little tiring. It’s wiry and detailed and all those good things, but the adjectives I am instinctively reaching for are less unequivocally positive – lean, young and unresolved. A key difficulty for me is the way its structure sits apart from its fruit, creating a sweet-sour impression and granting the wine a fairly hard finish. The fact this is a light, transparent wine only exposes these components more.
So, to write about this as a wine of potential, or one of inaccessible pleasures in the present? It may well be both those things. Certainly, its unwillingness to tire over an extended period bodes well for its future, and there’s no denying the elegance of its flavours.