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The wines Australians have been collecting in 2016

by SIMON THOMSEN

The iconic Canberra shiraz viognier produced by Clonakilla is this year’s favourite for wine collectors according to Australia’s largest managed cellar business.

Wine Ark, which has around 2 million bottles laid down in 16 centres nationwide, keeps data on all the bottles moving in and out of storage, and the top wine people put down this year was the 2015 Clonakilla shiraz viognier, costing around $100 – just 18 bottles ahead of the 2014 Lake’s Folly cabernet ($75) from the Hunter Valley.

Penfolds 2012 St Henri ($95) was the third most added wine of 2016.

Shiraz remains the clear favourite style to cellar, at twice the rate of its closest rival, pinor noir, with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay rounding out the top four. 

Wine Ark’s John Cuff said he was surprised that Clonakilla topped the list – but only because it’s hard to obtain.

“It shows that wine collectors know a good thing when they come across it and vote with their wallets,” Cuff said.

Clonakilla winemaker Tim Kirk described the 2015 vintage “more of everything… Isistent and persistent. A grand cru if ever we have made one.”

Critics agreed, with James Halliday saying: “It is a thinker’s wine, it stops you, draws you in and captivates. Incredibly detailed and floral-scented, the sumptuous and finely poised palate is a masterpiece.” 

Kirk told Business Insider his team were “totally thrilled” that people were putting down the wine to enjoy later and it was “great to have the confidence of Australia’s wine collectors”.

“We knew even before we picked the grapes that we had something special in the 2015 shiraz viognier. You couldn’t have asked for better growing conditions. A textbook growing season allowed us to showcase what we have long held to be true: Murrumbateman Shiraz in a great year can produce some of the most beguiling and exciting aromas, flavours and textures in contemporary Australian wine,” he said. 

While Clonakilla was the top drop to collect in 2016, Penfolds remains the most collected brand and most added to the Wine Ark cellars this year, although there was a changing of the guard earlier this year when the company announced that the wine dubbed “Baby Grange”, the Bin 389 shiraz cabernet, became the most collected wine, beating Grange for the first time in since 2007. At $75, 389 is about a 1/10th of the price of Grange.

Incidentally, the top Penfolds wines laid down in 2016 were Bin 389, St Henri and Grange. Cuff said Penfolds comprised over 50% of the top three brands added to the cellars in 2016, confirmingitisn’t showing any sign of slowing up its dominance in Australia’s most collected wines. 

This year Hunter Valley family-owned winery Tyrrell’s, best known for its Vat 1 semillon, was the second most collected wine brand, with another Barossa winery, Rockford in third place. 

The top three regions added in 2016 were, in order, the Barossa, Hunter and Margaret River

John Cuff the oldest bottle removed from the Wine Ark cellars in 2016 was a 1927 Gould Cambell Douro DOC Vintage Port, while the 2010 vintage was the most commonly removed, followed by 2009 and then 2005. 

“Surprisingly only one 50th birthday bottle of 1966 was removed – a Chateau Beau-Site from St-Estephe, Bordeaux,” he said. 

He added it was pleasing to see pinot noir gaining in popularity for cellaring.

“Shiraz was always going to dominate the numbers with over double that of pinot, however we are seeing more and more of this amazing varietal enter our cellars every year,” he said. 

“It’s great to see chardonnay in at number four – both these classic Burgundian varieties have been bolstered by the growing popularity of Burgundy in the cellars along with the increasingly age worthy Australian examples of these grapes”

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