Thorn-Clarke Wines Blog

5 red stars again! The Halliday Wine Companion results are in.



We’re proud to announce that we have yet again been rated 5 red stars in the latest Halliday Wine Companion results!

We’ve also received great results across our wine ranges, including our newly released Single Vineyard Selection. See the full results below…



2017 William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon – 96 Points

From the cool Milton Park and St Kitts Vineyards, destemmed, open-fermented, 10 days on skins, matured for 16 months in French hogsheads (35% new). The vintage was made to measure for cabernet in this district, the wine revelling in its full-bodied guise. Blackcurrant, black olive, dark chocolate and cedar sweep you along – relax and enjoy it.

2017 William Randell Shiraz – 95 Points

From the estate St Kitts and Milton Park Vineyards, night-harvested, each block separately vinified in 4t open fermenters, matured for 18 months in American oak (40% new). A powerful, full-bodied shiraz with blackberry fruit, tannins and oak all driving the long palate. The absorption of the oak into the fabric of the wine is particularly impressive.

2018 Single Vineyard Selection Grenache – 95 Points

60yo vines, partial whole bunch fermentation,10 days on skins, pressed to French oak (15% new)for 18 months maturation. The medley of forest floor fruits (wild strawberry, raspberry) with very good length and balance.

2019 Sandpiper Riesling – 95 Points

An exercise in purity and elegance, the perfumed bouquet trailing through florals, powder puff and a touch of spice, the delicately engineered palate keeping all the components in their place. Terrific balance and length to an all-out bargain.

2016 Ron Thorn Shiraz – 94 Points

The best of the 40 batches of grapes vinified in the vintage, from Block 7 of the St Kitts Vineyard. Matured for 20 months in 100% new American oak, which combines with the tannins to thickly coat the mouth. Needs many years to soften the overall impact of the wine.

2019 Single Vineyard Selection Riesling – 94 Points

Night-harvested, free-run juice only, minimal finingand filtration. Seriously good wine, with even more to come over the next 5 years.

2018 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnay – 93 Points

Maximum effort via 30% new French oak and 69% wild yeast.

2018 Shotfire Shiraz – 92 Points

Destemmed, pressed approximately 7 days later, 14 months in American oak (40% new). Rich, layered, mocha/chocolate overtones to the black berry fruits are obvious.

2019 Sandpiper Pinot Gris – 92 Points

The cooler the climate, the better it is for pinot gris. Control of the yield is also important if the desire is to make a wine with the structure to repay cellaring. This wine has what it takes at a giveaway price.

2018 Sandpiper Shiraz – 91 Points

Estate-grown, crushed and destemmed, twice-daily pumpovers in the fermenter, 12 months in French oak. Deluxe treatment for a $20 wine. It is medium-bodied, and over-delivers on its price. Mouthfilling satsuma plum and blackberry compote.

2018 Single Vineyard Selection Malbec – 90 Points

Destemmed into 4t and 6t fermenters, 7 days on skins, matured in well used oak. 

2018 Sandpiper Cabernet Sauvignon – 90 Points

Crushed and destemmed, three pumpovers per day, matured in French oak for 12 months. The Sandpiper label over-delivers time and again – not a hair out of place, just beautiful flavour.

2018 Single Vineyard Selection Mataro – 89 Points

2017 Shotfire Quartage – 89 Points

NV Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay – 87 Points


A handy guide to Thorn-Clarke Shiraz




In honour of Shiraz Day this Thursday 23rd July, we’re celebrating all things Shiraz!

There’s nothing more Barossa than Shiraz, which is why we like to include this classic varietal in each of our ranges. But what differentiates one Thorn-Clarke Shiraz from the next? And how do you know which one will suit your taste? Here’s a handy guide to help you find out…




That’s A Wrap! 2020 Post-Vintage Report


From the vineyards…

Vintage 2020 will be remembered by those involved as a most unusual one. Harvest commenced at a somewhat “normal” time in mid-February with sparkling Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and continued with white varietals which excelled with the mild weather conditions leading up to harvest, displaying concentrated flavour together with high natural acidity. The acid retention was consistent through our red varietal harvest as well, making frequent vineyard flavour assessment more important than lab maturity assessments to ensure optimal quality at harvest.

Weather remained mild throughout, with no rainfall to delay or impact on the harvest, however this has made water management critical to ensure fruit freshness whilst not exceeding our allocation limit, and preserving some water for post-harvest top up and fertiliser application.

Although overall tonnage was down, we have harvested target levels of most varietals with excellent quality and rich colour and flavour.

– Steve Fiebiger, Head Viticulturst


From the winery…

April is upon us already and with it comes the end of our harvest and Vintage for 2020.  In the winery, the cold mornings contrast against the last red ferments of the vintage as they warmly bubble away.  This year’s harvest has been a trade-off between quality and quantity.  On one hand the quality of both the reds and whites is amazing, with all varieties showing great fruit definition along with vibrancy and balance.  This is great news, though the downside is only small amounts of wine will be put into bottle due to the low crop levels in the vineyard.

It’s been hard to pick a star of the vintage (aside from our tireless staff) but the whites from our Mt Crawford vineyard and the Shiraz from St Kitts would have to be right up there.  The purity of fruit in the Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are amazing.  At St Kitts, we get a good combination of warm days and cool nights and this year’s crop is showing depth and power along with spice and elegance.  A great combination in my book!

So a lot of the hard work is over and fermenters and presses will soon be cleaned and packed away, but with tasting, blending and filling barrels still to come there will be plenty to do for months!

– Peter Kelly, Chief Winemaker



Single Vineyard Selection Rated 5 Stars!


We are thrilled to announce that our newly released Single Vineyard Selection range is bringing in rave reviews. The latest reviews come from Sam Kim at Wine Orbit, who scored the entire range no less than 94 points. Take a read below:



2019 Single Vineyard Selection Riesling – 95 points

It’s fabulously fruited and pristine on the nose showing white flesh nectarine, blossom and lime peel aromas, leading to a finely textured palate that’s splendidly focused and persistent. The wine offers excellent fruit purity together with bright acidity, finishing impressively long and linear. 




2018 Single Vineyard Selection Chardonnay – 94 Points

Offering elegance and exquisite style, the wine shows white flesh nectarine, fig, nougat and roasted hazelnut characters on the nose with a hint of flinty complexity. The palate is wonderfully weighted and expansive with fine texture and bright acidity, making it flavoursome yet refined and sophisticated. 



2018 Single Vineyard Selection Grenache – 94 Points

Sweetly fruited and delightfully perfumed, the bouquet shows Black Doris plum, raspberry and floral characters with nuances of anise and vanilla. It’s succulent and fleshy on the palate, delivering excellent fruit purity and vibrancy, wonderfully complemented by silky texture and rounded tannins. A fabulous expression.



2018 Single Vineyard Selection Mataro – 95 points

Ripe, dense and opulent, this gorgeous rendition shows black/blueberry, violet, vanilla, cedar and subtle spice aromas on the nose, followed by a wonderfully weighted palate that’s fleshy and lingering. It’s sumptuous and plush with a lengthy delicious finish. 




2018 Single Vineyard Selection Malbec – 94 points

Offering terrific fruit richness with seductive complexity, the bouquet shows dark plum, mulberry, olive, game, cocoa and toasted nut characters. The palate delivers excellent fruit intensity together with rich texture and silky tannins, making it delectable and persistent. A wonderfully generous wine with attractive savoury undertones. 




2018 Single Vineyard Selection Shiraz – 95 points

The wine is instantly appealing on the nose showing blackberry, dark cherry, warm spice, cedar and dark chocolate aromas. It’s superbly concentrated and persistent on the palate, offering excellent depth and multi-layered mouthfeel, leading to a irresistibly delicious, expansive finish. 



Click here to shop the range



Behind The Scenes Vintage Tours


Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes during Vintage? Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with all the action at the most exciting time of year in our winery!

Run every Tuesday and Thursday in March, we’ll take you behind the scenes at our winery, introduce you to our Chief Winemaker and give you the opportunity to taste our wines directly from the barrel.

Tour itinerary:

9am                       Arrive at winery, greeted by Cellar Door Manager, Ben Hilditch

9.10am                 Tour working winery and meet Chief Winemaker, Peter Kelly

9.40am                 Barrel tasting

10.15am               Tasting at Cellar Door and opportunity to purchase wines (with 10% discount)

Please note: Tour guests must wear enclosed shoes. Hi-vis vests will be provided and must be worn during the winery tour.


Behind the Scenes Vintage Tours are free of charge, but must be booked in advance as limited spots are available.

Contact Cellar Door to book your spot – (08) 8564 3036 or [email protected]


2020 Pre-Vintage Report




January in the Barossa is much like the day before a footy grand final: full of nervous anticipation. All the preparations have been made and the hard work put in to be ready and firing when the match begins. But even with all of that, the outcome is still undecided!

In our Eden Valley winery, there is a distinctive excitement and anticipation being felt by the team that only comes with the Vintage harvest. Our fermenters are shining and clean, older barrels are empty and we are taking delivery of our new 2020 oak. In the next two weeks we should see the first harvest of the season come into the winery for crushing and fermentation and when that first load comes across the weighbridge, the real test begins. Only then can we can see the true fruits of what nature, our vineyards and our vineyard team have produced.

The very dry weather combined with windy and hot conditions have limited the amount of grapes each vine can produce this season.  As a result we should see fragrant and lively white wines and richly coloured, densely fruited reds. The downside is you’ll have to be quick to try some, there won’t be much to go around!

– Peter Kelly, Senior Winemaker



Here at the onset of harvest, two significant factors have significantly shaped the outcome of this Vintage.

Firstly, the ongoing lack of rainfall prior and during the growing season. This has led to an increased reliance upon supplementary watering, starting well prior to budburst and continuing to present time. Careful management of this is critical to make best use of scarce water resources and to ensure most efficient water use by the vines. Daily checks of soil moisture monitoring data, together with visual inspections and frequent updates to irrigation schedules are all important in aiming for a quality outcome.

Secondly, weather during flowering has led to a lower than desired fruit set. Two main factors were at play here. Firstly, temperature fluctuated significantly above and below the optimum range of 15ºC to 30ºC resulting in poor pollen viability and reduced set. Additionally, strong wind results in pollen drying and again poor pollen viability and reduced set.

On a good note, the vines have persevered very well so far, with canopies remaining fresh and green and the bunches in very healthy condition with no disease or pest issues, indicating a very high quality Vintage across both red and white varieties.

– Steve Fiebiger, Head Viticulturist


Your Australia Day Wine Pairings


If you’re anything like us, when hosting family and friends, you’re always looking for ways to make the meal special. A great way to set your meal apart is to offer a carefully selected wine pairing to complement the flavours of the dish you’ve put so much love and thought into.

But what if you’re not a wine aficionado? In fact, what if you’re a total beginner?

At Thorn-Clarke, we believe that good wine should be enjoyed by everyone. So we’ve done the hard work for you and created a list of beautiful pairings for some classic Australia Day dishes.



Whether you’re cooking a roast or serving chops straight from the barbeque, a red wine with sweet, earthy flavours pairs particularly well with the richness of lamb.

Our pick:

2017 Shotfire Quartage



Barbeque and prawns are a match made in heaven, only made better by a great wine match! A white wine with body, complexity and a great fruit flavour will really bring out the best in this classic dish.

Our picks:

2018 Single Vineyard Chardonnay  

2017 Eden Trail Chardonnay



Sausages and Australia Day are almost compulsory companions across the nation. Whether it’s traditional beef, an Italian pork style or even Chicken and pine nut, you’ll want a versatile wine to go with your sausage of choice.

Our pick:

2017 Sandpiper Shiraz



When you’re having friends and family over, chances are a platter of some description will make an appearance.  The variety of flavours and textures make it hard to pin down a single wine match, so again you’ll want a wine that’s versatile. We suggest offering your guests both a red and a white variety to suit all tastes.

Our picks:

2018 Single Vineyard Grenache  

2016 Barossa Trail Grenache  

2019 Sandpiper Pinot Gris 


The Christmas food & wine matching guide


While food and wine can be a personal thing, there are some key attributes to each wine that guide them to a certain food group. We have put together a special Christmas guide to help make it easier to choose the wines to enjoy this Christmas. Read below for our tips for a great match to your Christmas meal!


The All-Purpose wine

No Australian Christmas is complete without a nice glass of bubbles to kick it off. The good thing with bubbles is it can be enjoyed as a pre-lunch beverage, but also matches well with all types of food. Fresh and Crisp Eden Valley fruit with delicate bubbles help any occasion pop, but even more so at Christmas. Just pop the cork and enjoy!

Recommended: NV Thorn-Clarke Sparkling



You can’t go wrong with starting an Australian Christmas celebration with some delicious fresh seafood. From Oysters to Prawns, we are spoilt with some amazing seafood. Likewise we are spoilt with some amazing wines to enjoy with them as well.


Rieslings and oysters are a match made in heaven, (if you are an oyster fan that is!) The crisp lime note and fresh acid in the Eden Trail Riesling balances well with natural oyster. Go a nice fresh oyster with a Riesling chaser!

Recommended: 2018 Eden Trail Riesling


The Eden Trail Chardonnay is a beautiful fresh wine with crisp acid and buttery flavours. If you are having fresh or cooked prawns, the Chardonnay is a great match. My favourite is prawns cooked on the BBQ in some rich garlic butter! Delicious.

Recommended: 2017 Eden Trail Chardonnay



Turkey is a special meat that works with most wines. It is a gentle meat that isn’t over powering and can be enjoyed with your favourite white, red, rosé or even sparkling wine and it would work fine. Turkey is also lower in fat, so it needs a wine with bright fruit and a low level of tannin. Smooth, fresh and juicy wines like our Barossa Trail Grenache would be my recommendation!

Recommended: 2016 Barossa Trail Grenache


Oaked Chardonnay is a perfect match with a simple roast chicken. The richness in the 2017 Chardonnay balances well with the flavours of the roast chicken and the stuffing. If you are looking for a red, a Grenache or lighter style Shiraz works well.

Recommended: 2017 Eden Trail Chardonnay or 2016 Barossa Trail Grenache


A good glazed ham is one of my favourite Christmas foods. With Christmas day in Australia generally being hot, cold meats are a must! A good wine to match with a ham is something with lots of fruit, a good body and not too much tannin. Our Barossa Trail Shiraz is perfect, coming from our St Kitts vineyard in the northern end of the Barossa, this Shiraz has plenty of fruit and a fantastic balance between the fruit and tannin

Recommended: 2016 Barossa Trail Shiraz


Christmas pudding

The Christmas pudding is a classic dessert full of rich fruit and if done well, a hefty dose of brandy! The richness in the pudding matches well with big reds, or if you are feeling a bit cheeky you could open a nice Barossa fortified like our 2015 Vintage Fortified. Me selection would be a nice big Barossa Red like our William Randell Shiraz. Rich flavours and a great bottle to finish lunch with!

Recommended: 2017 William Randell Shiraz or 2015 Thorn-Clarke Vintage Fortified.


However you enjoy Christmas this year, we hope you have a great day with family and friends with some delicious food and some great drops of Barossa wines!

2019 Sandpiper Riesling earns Top 100 spot!


James Halliday’s Top 100 Wines list was released over the weekend. This list curated by James features the top wines spread over six categories; top reds over $30, top reds under $30, top whites over $25, top whites under $25, top Champagnes and top sparkling. This list is the best of the best from Australia and around the world.

We are excited to announce that our 2019 Sandpiper Riesling has made the list for ‘Top Whites under $25’. This is exciting news for our already highly awarded 2019 Riesling, having already received a Gold Medal at both the Rutherglen and Perth Wine shows. This is on the back of our 2018 vintage receiving two trophies and multiple gold medals around the country.

On top of being listed in the Top 100 wines of 2019, our Sandpiper Riesling also received 95 Points from James Halliday and James had this to say about our new vintage;

“An exercise in purity and elegance, the perfumed bouquet trailing through florals, powder puff and a touch of spice, the delicately engineered palate keeping all the components in their place. Terrific balance and length to an all-out bargain.”

Read more about our 2019 Sandpiper Riesling here

Healthy Vineyards


The vines for vintage 2020 are growing rapidly despite the lower rainfall this year. We are currently 150ml below our average rainfall position for this time of year (which the average for October is at 400ml). Thankfully due to the ongoing undervine mulching operations over the past two years we have great soil moisture protection which is helping keep the vines healthy.

The outlook for the upcoming summer is dry and hot, so our vineyard team will be busy keeping our vines watered. The continued drought around Australia is effecting everyone, but with careful planning we will be in a good position to have another fantastic vintage in 2020.

Shiraz Classification


It’s that time of the year when the vines are dormant and the air has a certain chill to it that rips through all the extra layers of clothing we put on (It never seems to be enough!) It’s the time of year best to enjoy a big Barossa red but it’s also the time of the year we start looking back on the 2019 vintage and start planning the future of our 2019 wines. This month it is time to classify the Shiraz!

Classification of wine is an extremely important element of the wines journey from vine, ferment, barrel and then ending up in a bottle to be enjoyed. The process requires samples from all batches of our Shiraz we have produced that vintage, put them all side by side and work out which ones have the key elements that we are looking for to go in each of our labels.

Initial classification begins in the vineyard well before grapes have been picked, and even before we have our first shoots growing on the vine. Vineyard classification begins post vintage and looks at previous vintages to establish how each block we have will be treated through pruning and fertilisation works. This process sets up how much each block will crop, and at what quality level the wine should end up. This isn’t always a fool proof formula and vintage climatic conditions usually throw a small spanner in the works. That’s where the wine classification comes in.

In July / August each year we pull all of our Shiraz batches from barrel for individual tastings. We can have anywhere from 15 – 30 individual Shiraz batches each year so this is no small task. Each block is judged on its own and against its peers to establish its grade based on three key elements; colour, aroma and taste. These three elements are the structure to how our final blends come together and each label that has Shiraz in it has its own unique identity and style.

It may sound like it’s all fun sitting around enjoying a nice glass of red (and to be honest it can be!) but it is also challenging. The classification can go for days and involves tasting and re-tasting the same wine many times as we make sure that each batch goes the right path to the bottle. Depending on how we taste and classify each wine, it will decide the oak that it will be in, and the length of time that it will stay in barrel. A lot rides on how our palate works on the day!

Classification is a challenging process to do, but is critical for continuing to produce the award winning wines that we currently produce. Now you will know the work required to create our Shiraz wines next time you are sitting back enjoying a glass of red!




News from the Winery


Around the winery

with senior winemaker Peter Kelly

Now that Vintage 2019 is done and dusted the winery team can sit back and take stock of the season.  Every year the vineyards have different seasonal conditions to deal with, sometimes we are blessed with perfect weather, at other times we face challenges.  The 2019 Vintage was full of challenges but the resilience of the vineyards has shone through in the wines that were produced.

Each year the winter rain sets up the vines for the following years harvest and in winter last year, we had extremely low rainfall.  In turn this set us up for having very low crop levels across all four of our growing sites.  We also had some extreme heatwave events throughout the growing season.  Normally this could be a disaster as the fruit can suffer sunburn just like we can.  With the low crop levels and healthy canopies however the fruit not only came through unscathed but seemed to relish the heat!

The final wines are showing all the hallmarks of a classic Barossa vintage.  The whites are crisp, varietal and carry the juicy, vibrancy of the year.  Reds will also be brilliant.  The Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars with deep colour and amazing flavours!  These wines will be so approachable when we release them but promise a long and exciting future if you can age them in a cellar or wine fridge.

Pre Winter News from the vineyard

In the Vineyards

with viticulturist Steve Fiebiger

2018 has seen some extreme dry conditions, with the El Nino like season resulting in significantly lower rainfall this year, currently around 200 mm below average. This continues a run of dry seasons this last decade, with 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons having similar rainfall. The dry conditions mean we have had to start watering earlier than normal to help compensate for the loss of natural rainfall.

One feature of dry seasons is spring and early summer frost which can be very detrimental to vines and subsequent crops. Fortunately the several frosts experienced this season were early, before the buds had fully burst, and thankfully crop loss was minimal.

Large temperature fluctuations during flowering has resulted in lower fruit set than normal with the effect across most varieties in the Barossa. This unfortunately means less fruit on the vines, but generally increases the quality of fruit produced. It will be another interesting vintage in the Barossa.

Rain has finally come


Finally after a dry start to the year we are hearing the sound of raindrops on our roofs. There has been plenty of records broken so far this year from Adelaide receiving no rain in January at all to the biggest in the driest start of the year on record to the end of April.

Normally to the start of May we would have had on average 154mm, but to date we are at a lowly 22mm. Thankfully with the vines going dormant the lack of rain is more of an issue for our household gardens and rainwater tanks but we will be looking forward to some good winter rains coming up to replenish the ground water and prepare for the next vintage.

For now we can sit back and enjoy the sound of rain with 10mm falling over the past two days and more due tomorrow!

Thats a wrap for vintage 2019


Well the 2019 vintage is all finished now, but it really only feels like it just began! The vintage this year will be remembered for some record breaking hot weather as well as record dry periods. The warmer and dry weather meant that overall our yields were down but with lower yields also means better quality! 2019 will be a step back into the big flavours that the Barossa are known for, and it could be said this vintage is a complete opposite to the vintage we had in 2017 which was a lot cooler than this year!

The 2019 season started in spring 2018 with a very dry start with very little rain over winter, continuing to well below rainfall in spring and summer. This meant our vines had to work a little bit harder over summer and it kept the vineyard guys busy trying to keep the water up to our very thirsty vines! January was one of the driest months on record with Adelaide not recording any rainfall at all. Thankfully we received more than that here in the Barossa but unfortunately not enough to make much of a difference. The drier start to the season meant that the vines produced smaller bunches with much smaller berries than usual. Overall the vintage was anywhere from 30% to 50% down on average across the Barossa. Overall this means that when 2019 wines are released there will be less of them, but you will want to snap them up as the quality will be amazing.

Early reports out of the winery are looking good. Bright and vibrant whites have come from our cool climate Mount Crawford vineyard, and for the third year in a row we look to have some more award winning wines coming up! The red wines showed some amazing depth in colour right from crushing. The winery workers hands showcase the colour that is in the wine this year! The lower yields from vintage also mean that the flavour has intensified in the fruit so expect some really strong and bold wines coming from our reds in 2019.

Now we look to get the vines refreshed with some fertiliser spread to get them ready and rejuvenated for next year before they go to sleep over winter! The winery guys will be busy getting the wine into their barrels and getting ready to bottle our next vintage.

The work never ends around the vineyards and the winery!