Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

I never thought anything like this would happen.

Dan and I went to the Clonakilla winery today.

Upon arrival, we were pleased to find that the place is at the end of a long dirt road, with no fancy signs of any kind. The tasting room was in fact literally the cellar door, with a couple of pinboards with reviews on them, and a chalkboard with a list of what they had, and at what price. After ringing the bell, an older woman came in from the back of the winery and pleasantly poured us some semillon/sauvignon blanc, followed by some viognier, both of which were absolutely remarkably incredibly tasty. Then, a younger man came in through the front door. It was her son, and - lo and behold - the winemaker himself, a very friendly guy named Tim. We got to talking about how I'd heard of the place - a Melbourne wine distributor told me he'd had dinner with Randall Grahm, who'd claimed that there was only one world class wine in Australia, Tim's shiraz viognier, and I guess we hit it off pretty well. After going through the red wines they actually had for sale, Tim decided it would be a hoot to show us the office and winery as well. The office looked like an actual office, right down to clutter, a PC, a wall calendar from his American distributors, and so on; the winery itself was about as big as, well, an American living room in a newish suburban home. It was about two stories tall, with big French and American oak barriques along both walls, and some open fermenters, stainless steel, up above on a metal catwalk of sorts.

Then, things got really strange. In between talking about how Robert Parker himself was due to arrive on Friday to check out the 2001 shiraz viognier, Tim decided to go fetch us some from a bottle they'd opened earlier in the day to check on how the bottling was going that morning (his Mom was sticking the labels on by hand in the office!). And Good God almighty, I have never, ever smelled anything like that wine. The taste was absolutely phenomenal as well. I about dissolved in a puddle. Meanwhile, Tim was joking about how Grahm had said he'd had a religious experience when he'd tasted the wine at a Melbourne wine show a few weeks ago (he also joked about how some folks were starting to talk about Clonakilla as a cult winery, but he didn't agree with that assessment). He then talked about cult Aussie wines, showing us (empty) bottles of Three Sisters and RunRig, then talking about how the guy that employs the guy who makes the Sisters is a socialist who keeps prices down and boots folks off his mailing list who sell his wines through auction houses. Pretty damned cool!

And then, wouldn't you know, it got even wilder. Tim went and fetched one of those weird long pipe-looking devices you use to get wine out of a barrel fo sampling, and then we started going through the 2002 vineyard blocks he'd harvested just a few weeks ago. The wine was young, hadn't been through malolactic fermentation yet, etc., and it was just sitting there in the barrels... and we got to taste it, all three different shiraz/viognier blocks, plus a fourth shiraz only block as well. I have never been so lucky as to experience anything like that before, and I suspect it'll never happen to me again unless I start dating Jancis Robinson... who's married, but anyhow...

We finished off the morning by trying some unreleased liqueur muscat he'd made for his own family, which was sitting in a barrel in the office. That was also the best muscat I've ever had, hands down, and I can only hope that he releases some of it in the future, but I suspect it's not going to happen.

Upon parting, I got the bright idea of giving him the bottle of 1996 Le Cigare Volant I had in the car, the one I promised Julian I'd share with him (sorry!). This really seemed to make his day, unbelievably, and then he generously ran off to nick one of the bottles of the 2001 shiraz viognier that they were bottling and labelling that morning.

So, I am in possession of what just might be the only bottle of that that's left the property. Go me!

All in all, it's been a remarkable day. And folks, if you ever, ever see any of Tim's wines for sale, do check them out. Especially the shiraz viognier, but everything else was beyond compare, especially the cabernet merlot, which was far lovelier than other Aussie reds I've had.

Oh, and can anyone explain what a 'black raspberry' is? :)

  • It's July 2013.

    Remember when I wrote a lot on LiveJournal? Yeah, me neither.

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