Kilikanoon has travelled in the fast lane since its establishment in 1997, gaining 5-star status in the 2004 Wine Companion, five red stars in ’08, moving to the ultimate red star/red name in 2012. This placed it among the best 100 wineries in Australia, yet this year (’13) it surpassed its prior history with 12 of its wines receiving 94 points or above.
Kevin Mitchell has been the winemaker since day one; in the 2001 Wine Companion its production was 3000 dozen, its vineyards six hectares in the Clare Valley, and it received a 4-star rating. One sign of the future may have been its exports to seven major markets, however small the quantities may have been.
Without any fanfare (although the Clare Wine Show ’02 where it won six of the seven trophies on offer must have been a catalyst), production increased to 15 000 dozen (2005 Wine Companion), then 25 000 dozen (2006). Behind the scenes vineyards leapt from 20ha to over 300ha, and in August ’07 Seppeltsfied was acquired by what I describe as the Kilikanoon Group, production of the latter rising to is present level of 40 000 dozen.
The investors who purchased Seppeltsfield via their control of Kilikanoon were led by Nathan Waks, Sydney Symphony principal cellist, and included Janet Holmes a Court. When she decided to sell her share in July 2009, Warren Randall struck, completing the circle started in the 1980s when he was enfant terrible at Seppelt (Great Western).
The Warren Randall wine group now has what has been called a ‘cat’s cradle’ of 16 interlocking entities with 2266ha of vineyards, a crush of 16 000 tonnes and global sales of 117 000 dozen. Tinlins (McLaren Vale) and Fleurieu Vintners supply the volume, Kilikanoon and Seppeltsfield the icon wines, drawing on its own vineyards, supplemented by access to the Randall group’s vineyards.
The prices for the top 12 Kilikanoon red wines range from $33 (Clare Grenache) to $250 for 145-year-old Attunge Vineyard Clare Valley Shiraz, the majority at a financially comfortable $80. Kilikanoon has become a golden goose thanks to exceptional vineyard resources and small production runs of its best wines.