Canberra – the Australian wine region you need to know

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.

Yes – Canberra wine is exciting.

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.

Ken Helm – The Riesling King of Australia

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.

Day breaks over Eden Road Vineyard

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.

Chickens ruling the roost at Lark Hill Winery

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).

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33 comments

  1. I enjoy hearing more and more wineries are embracing Biodynamics, or at least low impact viticulture. Less poison in the vineyard and keeping the soil in good tilth is a win-win for everyone.

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  2. As a Canberran, there is nothing better than having soo many cool climate & quality vineyards on your doorstep. 20 min drive & the closest is 8km ( Mount Majura) who make a delush Tempranillo

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  3. Oh wow, wow, wow,!!! You’re wine review makes me want to pack a bag and fly to Australia now. Great blog, so happy you found me to follow, and now I’m on following on your journey. 😃🍷🎉

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  4. Reblogged this on CBRfoodie and commented:
    I have to admit I don’t know as much as I would like to about wine. I’ve always been more of a beer connoisseur and adopted the mantra that “there were two kinds of wine” from a very young age. (… in case you didn’t know, the two kids are “wine you like to drink” and “wine you don’t like to drink”).
    So, I’m always happy to defer to “The Wine Wankers” for an explanation on anything to do with wine. Below they give a pretty good run-down of wine in the Canberra region. Which is fast-becoming a must-visit destination for Australian wine connoisseurs!

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  5. Great writeup Drew. The next wine trip from Sydney will skip The Hunter and Mudgee to head here and maybe visit Tony and co. (though that might be a career limiting move – “in vino veritae”)

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