Killiecrankie was established by John Monteath and Claire Hull in 2000 in the Victorian wine region of Bendigo. John’s background as a viticulturist, working with Bendigo wineries such as Balgownie, Water Wheel and Blackjack, certainly came in handy for when he planted the vines for his own label.
The wines are made from a mix of estate vines and fruit sourced from vineyards in Bendigo and Heathcote. They range from the “quirky” Crankie label, the exotic Lola Montez, to the more serious Killiecrankie, with the flagship The Viscount being the pinnacle of this varied and delicious assortment.
2021 Killiecrankie Macedon Ranges Limited Release Pinot Noir
91 points | $50
‘12.5% alc vol. A very rare opportunity to buy some Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir grapes from 30+ year old vines was too good to pass up. The grapes were 100% whole bunch fermented and pressed into new and aged barriques.’
I found this wine to be quite a chameleon, beginning with bright, red fruits like jubey strawberry, red cherry and sour cherry, before turning quite savoury with rhubarb, beetroot, earth and mushroom, first on the nose and then on the palate. Once paired with food, whether it’s cheese or something a bit rich and spicy, the fruit comes out again to play.
2022 Crankie Bendigo Rosé
92 points | $25
‘100% Cabernet Sauvignon – 12.5% alc/vol. Only 1 person cut their finger when harvesting the grapes.’
If you’ve never had a Bendigo Rosé before, then the Crankie is a great place to start. It’s zippy, minerally and silky, showing rose, strawberry, cranberry, herbs and a touch of asparagus. With its medium body, fresh acidity and low tannin, the palate shows great energy and a lightness of touch. I gave it an extra point just for being so very nice with food, in my case, some spicy noodles.
2021 Crankie ‘Frankie’
92 points | $25
‘100% Cabernet Franc. 14% alc/vol.’
Cabernet Franc doesn’t receive terribly much love in Australia, which is a shame, so it was nice to come across the Crankie, with its focus on fruitiness and youthful drinkability. It opens quite spicily, with rhubarb and pepper, revealing blackcurrant, mulberry and some wild strawberry. The palate is vibrant and leans towards the darker spectrum, and the wine goes really well with food, particularly if there’s some spice. At $25, it offers tremendous value.
2021 Killiecrankie Bendigo Shiraz
93 points | $45
‘100% Shiraz. 14% alc/vol. Our Shiraz grapes were handpicked and fermented with 20% whole bunches, then pressed into new and used oak barriques creating a wonderfully balanced and complex wine.’
The Killiecrankie helps to cement Bendigo as a fine place for growing Shiraz. It’s juicy and bright, offering up loads of characters to the nose and palate: raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, mulberry, coconut, cola, smoke and dried red and black fruits. Like with all the other Killiecrankie wines, it feels quite at home with rich or spicy dishes, in my case, some gourmet snags.
2021 Killiecrankie Bendigo Limited Release Shiraz Cabernet
93 points | $35
‘14% alc vol. Two thirds Shiraz. One third Cabernet Sauvignon. One classic Australian blend.’
According to pretty much everyone, Shiraz Cabernet is the quintessential Aussie wine, and I can’t get enough of it. The addition of Cabernet makes this Killiecrankie a bit darker than the straight Shiraz, with blackberry, raspberry, vanilla, leather and dried black fruits, and the palate is particularly dark. A touch of alcohol heat disappears when paired with a dish that can match its power, such as steak or a tomato-based curry.
2021 Killiecrankie Bendigo ‘Triskelion’
95 points | $45
‘14% alc vol. This is our version of a ‘Super Tuscan’. A blend of 50% Sangiovese, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Shiraz creating a complex yet harmonious wine.’
Before today I never knew that I wanted a Bendigo-born ‘Super Tuscan’ in my life, but here we are. I liked this wine from the moment I smelt it, with its glorious mix of fruity and savoury characters: blackberry, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, toast, leather, and dried black fruits. The palate is silky, rich and balanced, with fine, grippy tannins and a real energy to it which makes it superb as a sipper or a pairer. Like The Viscount below, I think it will have a long life ahead of it.
2016 Killiecrankie Bendigo The Viscount Cabernet Sauvignon
96 points | $90
‘100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.5% alc/vol. Our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were rack-dried for 11 days before processing and fermentation, then allowed to rest in some quality new oak. 22 months in barrels. 18 months in bottle prior to release.’
A few years ago I stated in another publication that The Viscount is one of Bendigo’s best wines, and I still stand by that pronouncement today. At seven years of age, it continues to show a lot of beautiful primary characters (blackberry, tomato leaf, black olive, menthol) while the secondary and tertiary characters (vanilla, dark chocolate, cigar box, truffle, soy) point to its graceful development. The palate is cohesive, full and long, with finely integrated, dusty tannins, medium acidity and vivid flavours making for a sumptuous, highly enjoyable drinking experience; I paired it with a juicy steak and roast vegetables and it was pure hedonism. I sincerely hope that we see another vintage of The Viscount in future because, unfortunately, the 2016 will eventually run out *sigh*.