Thorn-Clarke Wines Blog

2019 Vintage is well under way


2018/19 summer has been a hot one! In fact January 2019 was one of the hottest on record, with the temperature record being broken with a staggering 48.6 degrees in the Barossa! With little to no rain over summer, and a below average spring rainfall berry sizes are small, and overall volume is down as vines are struggling through the heat just like we are!

What does this mean for the wine? Smaller berries mean we will get less juice out of our fruit than average years but the overall quality will be higher with more intense fruit characters and darker wines.

We are in the middle of processing our whites, with all the Pinot Gris off, and the remainder of the Riesling coming off this week. Reds have started with our Barossa Valley Shiraz coming in, as well as Cabernet Franc and parcels of Merlot.

It will be interesting to see the final outcome but all signs are looking positive for some good looking fruit, just unfortunately not much of it.

News from the Vineyard and Winery


Around the winery

with senior winemaker Peter Kelly

As the temperature warms up in the vineyard so it heats up in the winery too.  In only eight weeks or so we will begin harvesting fruit from our Barossa vineyards and the anticipation is building.  Right now we are getting some of our 2017 reds ready for bottling before vintage.  This means more space in the barrels and tanks when grapes start arriving but more importantly, more reds for you all to enjoy.  The maintenance team is in full swing as well, making sure that when the time comes our crusher, press and fermenters are ready to go.

The dry winter and spring weather that we have had is both a blessing and a curse.  Generally a warm but dry growing season will give us intense flavours and colours in our reds and beautiful fragrance in our whites.  On the other hand it also means we may not have as much fruit to go around, truly a ‘catch 22’ situation.


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.

William Randell 2016 Vintage Launch


We are excited to announce the launch of our 2016 vintage of William Randell Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 wines in the William Randell range continues on the rich history of rich, complex Barossa style wines that have been successful over the past 18 years.

The 2016 vintage started off with a warm dry spring that led into similarly dry conditions in December and January.  The warm weather brought harvest on a touch earlier than normal and we started picking fruit in the first week of February, with the William Randell being picked late March and early April.  We received a couple of good rain events throughout just prior to vintage led to milder conditions and a long even ripening period and excellent flavour development.

The William Randell Shiraz shows deep red with inky purple hues.  This classic Barossa style shows rich blackberry, liquorice, spice plum and smoky oak on the nose.  The palate is dense with ripe mulberry and berry compote and generous supporting oak.  The tannins are savoury and long with spicy, plush finish.

The Cabernet has a dense black red colour, with lifted blackcurrants and violets with perfumed briary fruit on the nose.  The palate shows ripe varietal characters with plush elegant fruit and savoury French oak.  The palate is long and refined with complexity and balance.

The 2016 vintage of our Shiraz and Cabernet will reward patience but is incredibly well balanced now. Read more about our two new releases and the history of the brand HERE

Sandpiper Riesling Success


Our Sandpiper Riesling has had a successful month on the show circuit. In the last 4 weeks our new 2018 Vintage has received a Silver Medal, 3 Gold Medals and to top it off it received two trophies!

The 2018 growing season for our Riesling had all the hallmarks of a classic vintage.  Consistent warm temperatures produced perfect ripening conditions for our Mount Crawford vineyard, which is located on the Southern edge of Eden Valley.  This along with good winter rains and a dry harvest period resulted in vibrant varietal flavours, excellent natural acidity and a long balanced finish.

If you haven’t tried our new vintage yet, here is what Senior Winemaker Peter Kelly had to say about the new multi award winning vintage;

“Showcasing vibrant pale straw with green highlights, the nose shows perfumed floral notes along with fresh cut white peach and kaffir lime leaf.  The palate follows through with juicy citrus flavours and light spice, along with a long balanced acidity and a fine minerality on the finish.”


Best Riesling of Show, Rutherglen Wine Show
Best White Wine of Show, Rutherglen Wine Show

Gold (Top in Class)
Royal Adelaide Wine Show

Rutherglen Wine Show
Perth Royal Wine Show

Barossa Wine Show

See the full list of awards and tasting notes HERE

Robert Parker Reviews


We have had some great news out of the United States with the Wine Advocate reviewing some of our current vintage wines with great scores being obtained across the board. The Wine Advocate are historically tough judges of wines, which means getting the scores we have shows the strength of our wines.


Ron Thorn Shiraz 2015                                                                                                                                                  95 Points

Yes, the 100% new oak shows on this bad boy, but the fruit is so massively concentrated that I don’t see it being a problem. The 2015 Ron Thorn Single Vineyard Shiraz is a full-bodied, plush wine, with loads of baking spices, vanilla, boysenberry and cola. Long and dusty on the finish, this should be a long-lived wine.


William Randell Shiraz 2016                                                                                                                                 93 – 95 Points

Stereotypical Oz Shiraz to some extent, the 2016 William Randell Shiraz is big, ripe and heavily accented by American oak. Cedar and vanilla notes blend with rich, plummy fruit, those sweet notes brought together and balanced by savoury dry tannins. It’s a big-ass steak wine, one that will be appreciated by consumers at steakhouses around the world.


William Randell Shiraz 2015                                                                                                                                         93 Points

The 2015 William Randell Shiraz comes from the far north of the Barossa Valley and was aged 14 months in American oak (40% new). Vanilla and boysenberries feature prominently, alongside baking spices and powdered cocoa. It’s full-bodied and plush but then comes to a crisp, tart finish.


William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon 2016                                                                                                    90 – 93 Points

I tasted the 2016 William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon as a final blend, one month before bottling. Mint and cassis mark the nose, followed by a full-bodied, ripe wine that seemed creamy-textured and soft. For a Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s awfully plush and easy to drink.


William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon 2015                                                                                                             93 Points

The 2015 William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon is a single-vineyard, Eden Valley bottling with plenty of intensity and varietal character. Mint and cassis notes dominate, but there’s a healthy portion of new French oak that shows as well, adding lovely notes of baking spices and vanilla. Full-bodied and velvety in texture, it still shows enough delineation and length to please purists.


Shotfire Shiraz 2016                                                                                                                                                       91 Points

Ripe, dark-fruited and sexy, the 2016 Shotfire Shiraz spent 14 months in American oak (40% new). Blackberries, cola and baking spices pick up hints of vanilla, while the full-bodied palate offers soft supple tannins and a long finish.


Shotfire Cabernet Shiraz 2015                                                                                                                                    91 Points

The 2015 Shotfire Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is a 76-24 blend. It favours the Cabernet in its aromas and flavour profile as well, with mint and cassis leading the way, the Shiraz serving mainly to help round out the mid-palate and provide some juiciness to offset the dry Cabernet tannins. It should drink well for several more years.


Shotfire Quartage 2015                                                                                                                                                 90 Points

A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 23% Petit Verdot and 17% Merlot, the 2015 Shotfire Quartage offers up mint and cassis on the nose along with hints of classic tobacco and cigar box. It’s full-bodied, with supple tannins and a velvety texture.


Sandpiper Cabernet 2016                                                                                                                                             90 Points

Mint, chocolate and cassis play easily on the nose of the 2016 Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon. A blend of several vineyards, including a bit from Eden Valley, its medium to full-bodied yet shows the variety’s hallmark restraint and fine tannins on the finish.


2018 Barossa Gourmet Weekend


The 1st September the Barossa celebrated the 2018 Barossa Gourmet Weekend. Here at Thorn-Clarke Wines we hosted a tasting master class called Dare to Pair. We selected a group of local producers who are masters of their crafts to come along and share a bit on their story and showcase their produce.

We were joined by;

  • Graham Linke from Linkes Butchers
  • Rick Steicke from Gully Gardens
  • Jan Angas from Hutton Vale Farms
  • Victoria McClurg from Barossa Cheese Company.

Our guests were able to learn the history of these Barossa Families and a bit more about their business. It was an honour to have these producers at our event; so much history and the best produce in the Barossa.

We had a great selection of food to pair from our producers; from mettwurst to dried fruit, fresh cheese to spreads, we had everything needed to create the perfect tasting plate.

The wines we presented were our Eden Trail Riesling and Chardonnay, and our Barossa Trail Grenache and Shiraz. These two ranges are a great way to look at the difference between our two climates split into regions in the Barossa. We were then able to taste the wines and the food together to see which matched best with each of our wines. It was a fun challenge and one that lead to some very healthy discussions amongst the groups.

After the tasting we split into four groups for a bit of fun competition. The groups were tasked with creating the perfect tasting plate based on what they had tasted. Some interesting combinations were created, and showed how different each pallet is from the next.

We had a great day, with lots of laughter and plenty of good wine and food consumed.

Hope to see you at the next event!

Perth Royal Wine Show Results


Thorn-Clarke Wines had a great showing at the recent Perth Royal Wine Show again with all wines entered coming out with a medal. Our wines have been done consistently well over the years at the Perth Show and 2018 has continued with the tradition. Check out the list of medals below.


2017 Shotfire Shiraz

2018 Sandpiper Riesling


2018 Eden Trail Riesling

2017 Eden Trail Chardonnay


2018 Sandpiper Pinot Gris

2017 Sandpiper Cabernet Sauvignon

2017 Sandpiper Shiraz

James Halliday’s Wine Companion scores released


Well, another year has gone by and another round of Wine Companion results have been released.  The 2019 Wine Companion has seen Thorn-Clarke Wines retain the 5 Star rating for the thirteenth consecutive year. That’s not bad considering we have only been selling wine for 18 years!

We have also retained our red star rating! The red star rating is the next step up from a 5 star rating and is a sign of exemplary quality. To achieve this rating you need consistency through your wines and you will also need to have two wines rated at 95 points or above.

The list below shows all the scores we have received from Halliday’s team of reviewers for the 2019 edition of the Wine Companion. Unfortunately some of these wines have sold out, but we do still have a few left!

2019 Wine Companion Scores

95 – 2015 Shotfire Quartage

95 – 2017 Sandpiper Riesling

94 – 2015 William Randell Shiraz

94 – 2016 Barossa Trail Shiraz

94 – 2015 William Randell Cabernet

93 – 2016 Shotfire Shiraz

93 – 2017 Sandpiper Pinot Gris

92 – 2017 Eden Trail Riesling

91 – 2016 Barossa Trail Grenache

90 – 2016 Sandpiper Cabernet

89 – 2016 Sandpiper Shiraz

88 – 2017 Sandpiper Chardonnay

88 – 2016 Sandpiper Merlot

High praise continues for Quartage


The 2015 Shotfire Quartage has once again shown it’s strength by winning another Gold medal at the Melbourne International Wine Competition. The 2015 vintage has seen  some great success over the past year with numerous gold medals and highly awarded reviews.

With only small a small amount of the 2015 remaining, make sure you have some of this award winning vintage in your cellar to enjoy!


Award Highlights;


Gold Medal

Melbourne International Wine Competition 2018

New Zealand Wine Competition 2017

Berliner Wine Competition 2017


95 Points

James Halliday

A long established blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot that has often exceeded expectations, both with the quality of the estate grown fruit, the way the components are handled in the winery and the blending process. Everything about the wine defies the normal yawn that greets Barossa Valley Bordeaux blends with its bright mouthfeel and cedary fruit flavours.

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson

Thorn Clarke’s “Bordeaux blend” is one of the more reliable performers on the Australian red wine landscape. Little fanfare, much satisfaction. This 2015 release is on the mark again. It’s ripe and bold but mellow too; it’s already settling into a sound drinking zone. Blackberry, earth, leather, some undergrowth, some mocha, a eucalyptus lift. Strong tannin but it suits the full-bodied style. It’s in a good place, but it will keep and mature over a longish period too.

91 Points

Bob Campbell MW

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. Reasonably rich, fleshy wine with dark berry, plum, chocolate/mocha, liquorice and spicy oak flavours. An accessible red in a crowd-pleasingly mouth-filling style

91 Points

Tyson Stelzer

The crunch of Cabernet Sauvignon is lifted by the floral allure of cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, fleshed out with Merlot. The result is a finely structured style of red fruit presence, classy, cedary French oak, and fine-boned tannins that will sustain it for the medium-term.

Sydney Dinner with the Winemaker


On Thursday 21st June we hosted out Dinner with the Winemaker event at the new Meat and Wine Co in Barangaroo, Sydney. It was a fantastic night full of great wine, good stories and lots of laughs.

Senior Winemaker Peter Kelly came across for the night and showcased a range of our new release and some special museum release wines for those who attended. We had a look at the new 2017 Eden Trail Chardonnay which is a new oaked Chardonnay project for us, and we looked at some museum wines as well; the 2006 William Randell Shiraz and the 2008 Shotfire Quartage. Both were drinking exceptionally well and worked extremely well with the amazing food put on by the team at the Meat & Wine Co.

The new 2015 Ron Thorn Shiraz made an appearance as well and this big Barossa Shiraz was drinking beautifully on the night, but will benefit even more with the more patience you can have.

A quick game of wine options saw guests trying to work out a mystery wine. The first question sorted the majority out, and from there we worked our way down to the final two with a question on what year it was made in! We had a winner and the bottle reveal showed we were drinking a 2009 Terroirs St Kitts Malbec. This is a range we produced in the 2000’s and was one of the earlier labels we had running.

It was a fun night and everyone had a ball! Keep an eye out for our next dinner! They are always a lot of fun and you get to drink some amazing Barossa wines.


End of another Vintage


Vintage 2018 has drawn to a close and the cooler weather has set in once again. We had some fantastic weather this vintage, with cool nights and warm days with very minimal rain events. This has led to rich flavours and amazing colours already showing in the wines. We can’t wait for the whites to be released in a couple months time to see how good 2018 really was!

Win a trip to the Barossa!


What could be better than a free trip to the beautiful Barossa Valley? I can’t think of any!

Imagine, relaxing at our Cellar Door overlooking our estate vineyards with a platter and a glass of wine, then spending time touring around the Barossa enjoying all the sights and finish it off with accommodation in a luxury bed and breakfast. For one lucky couple this could be yours!

For every 6 bottles of wine purchased on our website you will receive one chance to win the ultimate Barossa getaway!


This amazing prize includes;

Return flights to Adelaide

2 nights accommodation at the beautiful Gabel Hill Studio Retreat

3 days car hire

Private tasting and a platter at our Cellar Door


What are you waiting for? Head over to our shop and buy a minimum 6 bottles of wine delivered to your door to enter, with free delivery for 12 bottles or more!

The winner will be drawn in a live Facebook video at 4.30pm CST (Adelaide time) on the 16th March, 2018.

If you are interested in the legal talk, you can find the terms and conditions HERE.


Vintage has begun


This morning market the beginning of vintage for Thorn-Clarke Wines. In the early hours of the morning picking began on some of our Eden Valley Pinot Noir. This will be the base for our Thorn-Clarke Sparkling. Next week we will start to see a few more white varieties being picked and the following week things will start getting busy around the winery. It is said every year, but it is hard to believe vintage is upon us again!

Thorn-Clarke celebrates 30 years


This year Thorn-Clarke Wines has celebrated 30 years of the founding of the Thorn-Clarke partnership. 30 Years ago we planted our first Vineyard at our property on the Barossa Valley floor just south of Tanunda called Kabininge. This signalled the beginning of the Thorn-Clarke business and from there, the rest is history.

On the 15th November we celebrated this achievement with a dinner in our beautiful cellar door gardens. Normally you would be safe in thinking November would provide warm, dry weather, unfortunately we got the coldest and wettest day of the month! Even though the weather wasn’t as favourable as we would have liked everyone had a great time.

Sprout cooking supplied some amazing food with former Masterchef contestant Callum Hahn and Themus Chryssidis providing a great selection of food and a big tray of local oysters! What more could you want. We were also luck to have local band Colonel Mustard provide the music in what was their 200th gig together!

Here’s to another 30 years!


What happened in 2017?


2017 has been an excellent year with a near record harvest from our Estate vineyards, a long slow growing season delivered us quality fruit and lots of it.

We also achieved a record crush through our Milton Park winery. The vineyard and winery teams worked well together to make it look easy.

The onset of winter saw our vineyards meet another year of cutting back ‘dead arm’ or Eutypa which is a fungal infection that reduces yield and can kill vines – boring stuff but essential to the longevity and productivity of the vines.

The winery received some new winery equipment including a de-stemmer, filter and tanks – all important for improving quality of our wines and ensuring we are equipped to make the best possible.

Exporting to over 20 markets globally it is exciting to see a number of Asian markets developing a taste for our wines, while Europe and North America have long been good markets for our wines we are increasingly shipping more into Asia.

Our offices are currently undergoing some construction work. What was a section of our offices will soon become a private tasting and wine experiences room. This work will be completed in 2018 and allow us to accommodate groups, events and trade visitors in a smaller and more intimate space than our Cellar Door currently offers.

30 Years Old! In 1987 our Kabininge vineyard near Tanunda was planted, this planting was the first step in what has evolved to become Thorn-Clarke! We celebrated a 30th Birthday in November at the winery with a collection of people who all played a part in the winery becoming what it is today – past and present staff, suppliers, friends and customers.

The year has been filled with both challenges and successes – most of which have been fun….

We wish you all the best for the coming festive season and 2018, we hope you enjoy plenty of quality time, food and wine with loved ones.

Here are some of the images from what ended up being a wet but fun 30 year celebration.


Ben Chapman

General Manager