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Tasting Reviews

Thorn-Clarke 2016 Sandpiper and 2015 Red Releases

With a history of six generations of involvement in the Barossa Valley wine industry, Thorn-Clarke is one of the most-well-established family wine labels. Owned by David and Cheryl (nee Thorn) Clarke, sixth generation members Sam and Nicole are involved. The company has significant vineyard holdings in the Eden Valley for growing predominantly white varieties, and the Barossa Valley for the reds, totalling 270 ha. Traditionalists at heart, there has been a trend of increasing elegance in the red wines, whilst retaining classical Barossa Valley character. Peter Kelly, who was an assistant winemaker with Thorn-Clarke in the late 2000s has now returned to assume the position of senior winemaker and winery manager. He is assisted by Cale Otto, both men with extensive experience within the industry. Steve Fiebiger is the company’s viticulturist. Here, I review the new 2016 ‘Sandpiper’ Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, as well as the 2016 Shiraz, plus the 2015 ‘Sandpiper’ Cabernet Sauvignon and upper tier 2015 ‘Shotfire’ Shiraz.

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Riesling 2016
Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is very fine and elegantly proportioned with intense aromas of pure lime fruit and white florals, integrated with subtle thirst-quenching, wet-stone mineral elements. This is refined in expression with delicate detail. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is slender with good depth of mouthwatering lime, floral and mineral flavours. The palate flows along a fine, chalky-textured line with fresh, balanced acidity in the background. The wine carries to a light, nuanced, dry finish of citrus fruits and minerals. This is a light and slender dry Riesling with lime, floral and mineral flavours on a chalky-textured, mouthwatering palate. Serve as an aperitif, or with seafood over the next 4 years. Fruit from the ‘Mt Crawford’ vineyard fermented in tank to 11.0% alc. and 2 g/L RS. 17.5+/20 Feb 2017 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Pinot Gris 2016
Bright, light straw-yellow colour, pale on the edge. This has a firmly concentrated and deeply packed nose of white and yellow stonefruits along with restrained layers of minerals, unfolding nuances of pear and honeysuckle. The aromatics are refreshing and bright. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a good core of white and yellow stonefruits entwined with subtle pear and honeysuckle nuances, and minerally elements. The mouthfeel is softly textured with fine phenolics providing grip and dryness, and the acidity is well integrated. The wine carries to a light, dry finish. This is an elegant, dry Pinot Gris with a core of stonefruit flavours on a dry, softly-textured palate. Match with Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese fare over the next 3+ years. Fruit from the ‘Mt Crawford’ vineyard fermented in tank to 12.5 % alc. and 4 g/L RS. 17.5/20 Feb 2017 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Chardonnay 2016
Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is well-proportioned with intense, deep and well-concentrated aromas of yellow stonefruits, citrus fruits and mealy elements, along with notes of creamy barrel-ferment and nutty oak detail. The nose retains a steely freshness. Medium-bodied, the palate possesses stylishly restrained flavours of yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit integrated with mealy and nutty notes. The mouthfeel is soft with a gently textured line and integrated acidity, and the wine flows smoothly to a moderately long, dry finish of citrus and nutty flavours. This is a stylish Chardonnay with stonefruit, citrus and mealy flavours, with nutty oak on a soft-textured palate with underlying freshness. Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from the ‘Mt Crawford’ vineyard tank-fermented with 20% in new French oak hogsheads to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 6 weeks on lees with batonnage and 20% MLF. 18.0+/20 Feb 2017 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Shiraz 2016
Dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is firm and tightly bound with intense and deep aromas of ripe blackberry fruit along with black pepper and mineral detail, unfolding nuances of florals, dark herbs, spice and a suggestion of tar. Full-bodied, the palate has well-bound and firm flavours of blackberries with boysenberry, plum, black pepper, liquorice and jam elements, along with dark herbs and tar. The fruit forms a packed core with fine-grained tannin extraction providing good linearity. The acidity is ripe and integrated, and the wine carries to an elegant finish with light, lingering blackberry fruit. This is a youthfully tight and concentrated Shiraz with a fine-textured core of blackberry fruit with black pepper and liquorice flavours. Match with barbecued and roasted red meats over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged up to 12 months in French oak. 17.5+/20 Feb 2017 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. This has a firmly concentrated and deep nose with aromas of fresh blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, along with cassis liqueur, harmoniously melded with mint herb nuances. The fruit is expressed with clarity. Full-bodied, the palate is sweetly ripe with well concentrated flavours of blackcurrants and cassis liqueur. The fruit richnessis balanced and supported by fine-grained tannin extraction and structure. Soft, piquant acidity enlivens the fruit, and the wine carries along a positive line, leading to a long and sustained finish of sweet blackcurrant fruit balanced by dry textures. This is a well-structured, sweetly ripe blackcurrant and cassis fruited Cabernet Sauvignon with firm tannin grip and a positive, lingering finish. Match with roast lamb and semi-hard cheeses over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10-12 months in French oak. 18.0/20 Feb 2017 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ Barossa Shiraz 2015
Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The bouquet is full and voluminous with rich, ripe, up-front, near opulent aromas of blackberries melded with liquorice and subtle layers of savoury eucalyptus and cedar, and oak vanilla notes. The aromatics are harmonious and integrated. Full-bodied, the palate features rich and plush fruit flavours of ripe blackberries and liquorice entwined with dark plums, cedar and oak vanilla. The fruit is vibrant and lively, and supported by fine-grained tannin extraction, providing mouthfilling body, depth and grip. Lacy, background acidity lends energy and the wine carries with underlying power to a long and sustained finish of liquorice and cedar. This is a rich and lusciously sweet, ripe Shiraz with blackberry and plum fruit melded with cedary oak on a well-structured palate with a vibrant mouthfeel. Match with roast lamb and slow-cooked game meats over the next 6-8 years. Shiraz fruit from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 40% new American oak. 18.5-/20 Feb 2017 RRP $27.00

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