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It has been a remarkable journey for Clonakilla. When John Kirk planted the first vines in 1971 he had no idea that his vineyard would one day be celebrated as one of the best in the country. Along the way there have been trials and tribulations as well as moments of unprecendented success. Over time something important has become clear: Murrumbateman and Shiraz are one of those rare combinations in the world of wine that can produce something truly exciting.

Sean O’Riada is one of the heroes of modern Ireland. A talented musician and composer, he is credited with taking traditional Irish music out of the kitchens and pubs of Ireland and putting it on the concert stages of the world. He died, prematurely, in 1971, the year Clonakilla was established by John Kirk. He was John’s cousin.

This has class stamped all over it from the moment you first taste it, sweeping away any necessity to describe the colour or bouquet; it creates a sparkling river of dark fruits that run from the tip of the tongue through to the elegant, but oh so complex, finish and aftertaste. Exhilarating. Drink by: 2045; Price: $45.00; Date Tasted: March 2015; Alcohol: 13.5%; Rating: 97 Points & Special Value Star; James Halliday Wine Companion

In pure drinking terms – that is, unless you’re looking to on-sell at some stage – Clonakilla’s O’Riada Shiraz is where the smart money is being spent when buying Clonakilla reds. This is a structural release. It boasts both a rusty dryness and a romp of perfume, but the length of flavour-shot tannin does everything it can to impress its quality upon you. The effect is not far short of brilliant. Berries, florals and spices abound. This will be a long termer. Drink: 2017-2035; Price: $45; Date Tasted: July 2015; Alcohol: 13.5%; Rating: 95+ Points; Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

Recently, a comparison was made of O'Riada to Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2014 ($90-$100) and Hilltops Shiraz 2014 ($28-$33). Six tasters enjoyed the solid Hilltops wine, but as the night wore on, the levels in the other two bottles declined rapidly. Ultimately, in vocal opinions, as well as volume consumed, the intense, silky shiraz viognier won the day by a comfortable, but not wide, margin, over the classy, harmonious O'Riada, a gold medal winner at the Canberra regional wine show. Price: $36-$48; Chris Shanahan; Canberra Times

Canberra region magic. Black pepper, dark fruit, lavender, exotic spice and foresty complexity on the nose. Meaty rich and complex in the mouth, it’s not heavy, with superfine texture and superb tannin balance. Ralph Kyte-Powell; SMH & Age


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