A Day of Tasting History

A Day of Tasting History

It has been quite a year.

Personally, in 2022 Lara and I have celebrated the weddings of two of our kids, the engagement of a third and, blessing of blessings, the birth two weeks ago of our first grandchild!

For Clonakilla the year has been no less momentous.

The big highlight was the celebration of our 50th anniversary in October with a large Clonakilla tasting day for winemakers and wine scribes followed by a dinner at the winery with 110 guests. It was our third attempt at staging this event. Covid surges had undermined our previous two tries. This party was a year late but worth the wait!

It was a huge amount of fun to have wine industry leaders join us from around the country. Many commented on how wonderful it was to see so many winemakers and writers in one place. It was all the more touching for us in that they had gathered to celebrate 50 years of Clonakilla.


The tasting day was intense. Twenty-one Rieslings spanning the years 1994 to 2022. Twenty-one vintages of Shiraz Viognier, grouped under the categories of ‘Luminous’ – the cool years, ‘Ethereal’ – the moderate years and ‘Glow’ – the warm years. We followed those brackets with seven vintages of Clonakilla Syrah and then seven of our tiny make single parcel SVs (Western Vineyard, T&L One and Two). Fifty-six wines in all.

The dinner that night was remarkable. A five-course menu prepared by the brilliant Ben Willis and team of Aubergine Restaurant fame was everything we hoped it would be. For each of the major courses we paired a Clonakilla wine with a European benchmark.

The 2017 Jaboulet La Chapelle Hermitage, the 2010 Vincent Paris ‘Les Geynale’ Cornas, the 2012 Jamet Cote Rotie and the 2009 Loosen Erdener Pralat Auslese Riesling were on the table in all their vinous glory.

Up against those classic wines were our 2018 Syrah, the 2015 Shiraz Viognier, the 2009 Syrah, the 2008 Shiraz Viognier, the 2005 Shiraz Viognier and the 2011 ‘Auslese’ Riesling.

The ultra-rare (never actually released) Clonakilla ‘Family Reserve’ Muscat was served at the end.

My dad, Clonakilla founder Dr. John Kirk, gave a fine speech on the journey that lead him from Ireland to settling in Canberra and planting a vineyard at Murrumbateman. The standing ovation he received from the gathered crowd was a moving testament to the esteem in which he is held; and very touching for all the family members present.

Read Huon Hooke’s write-up of the event.


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