Clonakilla is a well known, but still relatively small winery in the Canberra region, close to Australia’s capital city.

I had a less than ideal experience with one of the wines that I purchased last year from the cellar door and I wrote to the winery expressing my concern over the problem that night and to see if he had received any other reports of problems. The next day I had a response from Tim Kirk (winemaker/owner) acknowledging the issue and giving me a detailed rundown of the steps they were taking in the winery to prevent the problem occurring again. He should also be commended for taking an approach to make the situation right without me asking him to do so.

It amazes me that the attitude of some wineries is that customers almost seem to be too much of a hassle to deal with. In a industry where we read numerous reports of producers struggling with the over-availability of wine and other issues, it seems like it would make sense to ensure the customer is happy and remains loyal. Some wineries just don’t get it, there is a massive amount of brilliant wine out there and the amount that I can afford to buy is the tiniest of percentages, it makes it a lot easier to decide where my money is going to go when the winery shows loyalty to the customer, realising that it is not a one way street. You may be able to sell out of your wine every vintage and this year, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to the next year, or the year after when I’ve moved on to buy from other producers.

So a big “well done” to Clonakilla and Tim Kirk, you will have my loyalty in the years to come and I’m sure the loyalty of many others you have dealt with.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Can I ask what the problem was and which vintage is affected?

  2. Yes, it was a bottle of 2004 Hilltops Shiraz/Viognier under cork. The problem was brettanomyces, which wasn’t apparent on release but seems to have bloomed in some bottles (mostly under cork, Tim says that screwcapped bottles seems to be fine for the most part). This bottle was a complete contrast to the bottle I tried almost a year ago which was clean, floral and delightful – this time it was dominant barnyard and the palate was metallic.

    Tim spoke of the following things that he was doing to ensure there were no problems in the 2005 Hilltops:

    – Airconditioned the barrel store
    – Somewhat higher and earlier additions of SO2
    – Careful, prolonged, high temperature barrel cleaning (90 degrees celcius)
    – Burning sulphur candles in barrels once they are emptied
    – Careful attention to molecular SO2
    – Tighter filtration pre bottling
    – Bottling 100% under screwcap.

  3. Thanks for that, Prince Wine Store has a tasting and special deal ($25) on the 2005 Hilltops starting tomorrow, will look with interest.

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