As Australia’s capital, Canberra may have a high proportion of public servants and politicians, but when it comes to food and wine, it is anything but boring. Thanks to top class Australian wineries as Clonakilla (Shiraz Viognier) and Helm (Premium Riesling), our nation’s capital has justifiably taken its place alongside Australia’s best growing regions for wine. But two wineries does not a region make, as the Wine Wankers recently discovered when we visited Australia’s Capital of Wine.
Wine has been produced in Canberra for more than 160 years, but it’s only in the past 40 years the region has truly shined. If cool climate, food friendly styles are what you crave, you’ve come to the right place. Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and of course Shiraz Viognier blends all shine.
If you’re driving from Sydney, I suggest you travel via Yass and experience the Murrumbateman side of the Canberra wine region. Located 30 minutes from the centre of Canberra, here you will find the must visit wineries of Clonakilla, Helm Wines, Eden Road and Four Winds. Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier is the benchmark in Australia for this sumptuous blend. It’s so exalted, it’s now part of the Exceptional Range in Langton’s Classification of Australia’s best auction wines. It’s also the best value of the Exceptional wines – a snap at $100!
Helm Wines is owned by the Patriarch of the Canberra Wine region, Ken Helm, considered one of the world’s top authorities on Riesling. Tasting Ken’s Premium Riesling should be on every Australian wine lover’s bucket list.
Wines to watch
Helm 2013 Premium Riesling ($45), Helm 2014 Orange Riesling ($25), and Helm 2014 Tumbarumba Riesling ($25)
Eden Road Wines is a relatively new comer to the Australia wine conscience, with much praise being lauded on the winery when it won the acclaimed Jimmy Watson Trophy for it relatively affordable Long Road Shiraz a few years back. And if you want delicious pizzas direct from a stone oven, you must visit Four Winds Wines – the gorgonzola and potato with rosemary is a must.
Wines to watch
Eden Road 2009 Museum Release Riesling ($30), Eden Road 2013 Off Dry Riesling ($30), Eden Road 2012 Long Road Pinot Noir ($22), Eden Road 2012 Long Road Shiraz ($22), and Four Winds 2013 Shiraz ($25)
With first day of wine tasting out of the way, it’s time to head in to the big smoke of Canberra (ironically, there is no pollution, anywhere – this city is clean on steroids). Accommodation; the recently opened Hotel Hotel is a must. Designed with an inch of its life, the rooms take their inspiration from the Australian shack. Clay rendered walls, salvaged oak beds, overhead rain showers, and even windows that open!
Your Sunday must kick off with Canberra’s best breakfast, Lonsdale Street Roasters in Braddon. The coffee is to die for and so too were the Eggs Benedict and Big Breakfast (honestly the best I’ve ever had, thick cut barbequed bacon and the true star of the plate – the mushroom and tomato tart with onion and rosemary). Another plus – the homemade tomato sauce on every table!
And now you’re well and truly fuelled, your weekend of wine tasting can conclude with the top flight winery, Lark Hill. With some of the highest vineyards in all of Canberra, Lark Hill’s cool climate wines are a clear standout. Not only that, since 2003, Lark Hill has been farmed using Biodynamic Principles. On top of this, they have also eliminated the use of poisons in the vineyard. Win win for everyone.
Wines to watch
Lark Hill 2014 Riesling ($30), Lark Hill 2013 Biodynamic Chardonnay ($40), Lark Hill 2013 Sangiovese ($30), Lark Hill 2013 Shiraz Viognier ($30), and Lark Hill Auslese 2012 Riesling ($30).