Shiraz Viognier 1999
On the night of October 27-28, 1998, a mass of freezing air blew in off the Antarctic spreading over much of southern New South Wales, into Victoria and eastern South Australia.
The temperatures in our vineyard plummeted to minus five degrees and stayed there for hours.
The tender green shoots that had been growing for the preceding month slowly froze to death, leaving a scene of devastation when the sun rose that chilly morning.
In 28 years at Clonakilla, we have never seen a frost so hard, so late.
Frosted vines grow back, of course, but the secondary buds are never as fruitful as the primary buds, making for significant losses in yield.
Losses in our vineyard were as high as 90% in some varieties with the whites particularly hard hit.
The vintage gave us just over a tonne per acre of Shiraz and despite the late start following the frost the fruit ripened beautifully.
The wine itself shows classic cool-climate pepper and spice characters combining blackberry and cherry notes with meaty, gamey elements.
There is a fine seam of tannin running through the palate that will see this wine into a glorious old age. This Shiraz really demands time in the cellar to show its best, such are the levels of concentration and extract flowing from the very low yields in 1999.
This wine is made from the second growth fruit. The Shiraz was picked in two batches.
The first on April 4, a scrambled effort to beat forecast rain (50 mm as it turned out).
The second was picked on April 24.
5% co-fermented Viognier, one quarter whole bunches, 12 months in 36 % new Sirugue and Francois Freres barrels.
The 1999 Shiraz Viognier was listed in The Age as one of the 25 'must see' wines out of the 8000 on show at Wine Australia.
- 13.5 % Alc/Vol
- 0 g/L
The Wall Street Journal
Some argue this is Australia's greatest red wine, it is certainly one of the greatest Shirazs