Clonakilla Wines Chief Winemaker/CEO

A former Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year (2013) and one of Australia’s most revered industry talents, Tim Kirk is best known for his world-class shiraz viognier. But he also knows where to find a top Canberra coffee.

What is your favourite varietal from the Canberra region? Which wines do you recommend?

It’s shiraz, no two ways about it. Canberra’s cool continental climate and granitic soil brings a subtlety and a sensuality to shiraz that sets it apart. Think layers of complex spice, ripe red berries and a haunting floral dimension: roses and violets, perhaps. I recommend: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier, Collector Reserve Shiraz, Eden Road “Canberra” (syrah), Nick O’Leary Bolaro Shiraz.

What is your favourite regional place for casual dining? And a bit smarter? And a coffee break?

I love Monster Kitchen and Bar at Hotel Hotel. And The Chairman and Yip in Civic serves great modern Asian. For a special night out it’s hard to go past Aubergine in Griffith. For coffee, Canberra’s ONA coffee, based in Fyshwick, is fast becoming a national treasure. World-champion barista Sasa Sestic working together with master roaster Sam Corra have built a fantastic coffee business guaranteed to take your love of coffee to the next level.

Is there a little known spot in the Canberra region (hidden gem known by locals) that visitors should experience?

It’s not exactly a hidden gem, but the Arboretum has fantastic views of Canberra and a knockout kids’ playground.

"Canberra, Yass and Murrumbateman are all blessed with farmers' markets. Plenty of fresh, local food from passionate, earthy folks."

Your favourite produce from the region, and why?

Canberra, Yass and Murrumbateman are all blessed with farmers’ markets. Plenty of fresh, local food from passionate, earthy folks. The truffles require a particular mention. There are a number of growers around the Canberra region who have caught the truffle bug and are coming up with some pretty amazing, and headily aromatic, results. There is an annual truffle festival, and while the seven-course truffle-themed dinners get dangerously close to sensory overload, quite a few restaurants include local truffle in a dish or two on their menus through the Canberra winter.

What makes the Canberra region unique?

It’s a cool place, climatically and existentially. The wines and the local produce have a crisp intensity about them. It’s the cool nights delivered by our continental climate that give us our edge. Sitting around 600 metres above sea level has distinct advantages.

Finally, what is your favourite "end-of-the-day" tipple?

For the summer months, you can’t really go past a glass of pristine Canberra riesling, a tapestry of subtle scents and the hallmark crisp mineral acids. Shiraz and shiraz viognier blends carry the authority required to make a serious impact on any interstate guests who may be tempted to doubt the quality of the new-wave Canberra wines. There are also plenty of talented Canberra winemakers producing excellent examples of rarer varieties: sangiovese, tempranillo, merlot, viognier, gruner veltliner, pinot gris and even the mercurial pinot noir!


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