Tasting Reviews




Thorn-Clarke 2017 White and 2016 Red Releases


08-Nov-2017
Thorn-Clarke is a proud 6th generation Barossa grapegrower with 270 hectares of vineyard in some of the most southern and northern sites in the region. They have the grape varieties planted accordingly, the whites in the cooler Eden Valley, and reds in the Barossa Valley proper. The wine production is geared toward making regionally expressive wines with a nod towards the modern preference of elegance, and this can be seen especially in the more accessible ‘Sandpiper’ range. The ‘Shotfire’ range is somewhat more hearty and traditional in style, and the flagship ‘Willian Randell’ and ‘Ron Thorn’ wines may little concession to modern trends, and in my opinion, particularly in these, the better for it, as they capture the history and culture of the famous wine styles that made the Barossa region world-famous. There are also the ‘Eden Trail’ and ‘Barossa Trail’ wines designed to be "varietal and terroir” expressive of their regions. These wines will feature the ‘new wave’ of varieties and styles, sometimes made from contracted fruit from selected quality vineyards. Here, I review a selection of new release wines, featuring 2017 whites and 2016 reds. www.thornclarkewines.com

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Riesling 2017
Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour, very light on the edge. The nose is taut and elegantly presented with good depth of lime and lemon fruit, along with white florals and mineral nuances, revealing a little honeysuckle. The aromatics are steely and refreshing. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is tightly bound with elegantly concentrated flavours of limes and lemons, intermingling with honeysuckle and mouthwatering minerals. The fruit forms a fine core, and the wine flows with good linearity along a fine-textured line with soft acid liveliness, leading to a light, but lingering, nuanced finish of citrus fruits, florals and minerals. This is a taut dry Riesling with lime and lemon fruit entwined with mineral notes, showing a fine core and line, and a fresh, lingering dry finish. Serve as an aperitif, with shellfish and Asian fare over the next 4+ years. Eden Valley fruit fermented in tank to 11.0% alc., 4 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 3.13. 17.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Pinot Gris 2017
Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour, near colourless on the rim. The nose is taut and tightly bound with aromas of white stonefruits and pears and a mouthwatering steeliness and suggestions of white florals and minerals. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound with a fine core of white stonefruits, pears and white florals, and thirst-quenching minerals. The palate has good linearity and flows along a light-textured phenolic line with fresh acidity, leading to a dry, soft-textured finish. This is a taut and tightly bound dry Pinot Gris with flavours of white stonefruits, florals and pears and mouthwatering minerals on a light phenolic textured palate. Serve with a variety of seafood and white meat dishes over the next 3 years. Fruit from the ‘Mount Crawford ’vineyard, fermented with solids to 11.5% alc., and 4 g/L RS. 16.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Chardonnay 2017
Bright, even pale straw-yellow colour with slight green tints. The nose light, but has a well-concentrated core of white stonefruits and soft nutty notes of oak and thirst-quenching mineral elements, with nuances of flinty and toasty oak complexities. Medium-bodied the palate has gently rich flavours of yellow stonefruits and citrus notes, with subtle nutty oak elements and suggestions of barrel-ferment creaminess. The fruit forms a soft and rounded core, balanced by light, lacy acidity. The wine flows along a smooth line, leading to a light, clean finish of citrus fruit and nuts. This is an elegant Chardonnay with gently rich stonefruit and nutty flavours with a soft, balanced palate with freshness and smooth flow. Serve with seafood, poultry and pork dishes over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from the ‘Mount Crawford’ vineyard, 20% fermented in new French oak to 12.0% alc., the wine undergoing batonnage for 4 months in barrel. 16.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Merlot 2016
Dark, deep, black-red colour with slight purple tints, near impenetrable and a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full and deeply concentrated with aromas of ripe black plums along with blackcurrant notes, subtle nuances of dark herbs and dark-red florals, and savoury earth elements. Full-bodied, the palate has sweetly ripe dark plum fruit flavours with blackcurrants and dark herbs. The flavours are plush with soft, supple tannin structure in support, with soft acidity contributing to the palate roundness. The wine carries smoothly to a juicy, black plum, blackberry and herb-nuanced finish. This is a sweet-fruited Merlot with sweet black plum, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours on a plush, fulsome palate with supple tannins and a rounded mouthfeel. Match with roasted lamb, beef and venison dishes over the next 5-6 years. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in seasoned French and American oak. 17.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Full, even black-hued ruby-red colour, near impenetrable, a little lighter on edge. The nose is firm and tightly bound with intense aromas of ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit entwined with dark herbs and nuances of mint and eucalyptus. The fruit is fresh and vibrant in expression. Full-bodied, the palate has deep flavours of rich, ripe fruit, showing blackcurrants and cassis with a layering of mint and eucalypt. The flavours are vibrant and underlined by fine, grainy tannin extraction and structure, lending a powdery-textured mouthfeel. The acidity is balanced and integrated, and the wine flows with good drive, leading to a sweet, lingering finish. This is a rich, ripe and plush Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrant, blackberry and nuances of mint and eucalypt on a fine-grained and structured palate. Match with herb-marinated lamb and beef dishes 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 5% new French oak. 18.0-/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Shiraz 2016
Full, very dark and deep, impenetrable black-red colour with purple hues, youthful in expression. The nose is softly full, initially a little restrained, but unfolding to show deep aromas of blackberry fruit with hints of dark raspberries, black plums and liquorice, and a suggestion of eucalyptus, unveiling black pepper, spices and minerals. Full-bodied, the palate has rich and intense flavours blackberries intermingling with boysenberry notes, liquorice and black pepper, and spicy plums. The fruit sweetness is supported by plenty of tannin extraction and grip. The textures are grainy and reasonably fine-grained, and the acidity is balanced, lending the palate good energy. The flavours carry to a long and sustained finish of blackberries, liquorice and spice. This is a rich, up-front, deeply flavoured, ripe Shiraz with blackberry, plum, liquorice and spice flavours on a grainy-textured palate with grip and drive. Serve with roasted game meat dishes and casseroles over the next 5-6 yeas. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged up to 12 months in 5% new French oak. 17.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ ‘Quartage’ Barossa 2015
Full, very dark, deep, black-hued garnet-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is full and softly packed with deep and dense aromas of ripe blackcurrant fruit harmoniously entwined with dark plums and savoury dark herbs, along with cedary and earthy nuances, unfolding some mint and eucalypt . The nose unfolds soft layers of detail and grows in volume with aeration. Full-bodied, the palate is softly rich and densely packed with a harmonious amalgam of blackcurrant fruit melded with dark-red plum fruit, unveiling cassis and herb notes along with cedary, spice and earthy elements. The palate is plush and sweet, and is supported by fine-grained tannin structure providing a supple grip. The acidity is integrated, and the wine carries with good flow, leading to a full, gentle finish. This is a full, soft and densely packed Cabernet blend with blackcurrants, plum, earthy and cedary flavours on a balanced palate with fine tannin grip. Match with slow-cooked game meat and casseroles over the next 7-8+ years. A blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Cabernet Franc. 20% Petit Verdot and 16% Merlot from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 25% new French oak. 18.5/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$27.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘William Randell’ Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Full, even, black-hued red colour with slight garnet hues on the rim. The nose is softly presented with densely-packed ripe blackcurrant fruit with blackberries entwined with notes of cassis, mint and herbs, nutty and spicy oak. The depth, richness and harmony of the aromatics is impressive. Full-bodied, the palate has immensely concentrated flavours of rich, ripe and sweet blackcurrant fruit intermixed with cassis liqueur. The fruit is deep and possesses a deep core, unfolding mouthfilling flavours of blackberries, mint and herbs and aromatic oak. The fruit richness is supported by considerable tannin extraction, and moderately fine-grained textures. The mouthfeel is enlivened by the acidity, the fruit underlined by power, lending linearity. The palate carries to a long, lingering, rich and fulsome finish. This is a rich, ripe, impressively dense Cabernet Sauvignon with fulsome blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, with mint and herbs, along with fine oaking and plenty of structure. Match with roasted or grilled, herb-marinated red meat dishes and semi-hard cheeses over the next 10+ years. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’ and ‘Milton Park’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 40% new French oak. 19.0/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$60.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Willian Randell’ Barossa Shiraz 2015
Full, very deep, near impenetrable black-hued red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is rich and voluminous with a penetrating, intense and piquant core of ripe blackberry fruit entwined with black plums and liquorice, intermixed with aromatic spices and coconut-nuanced oak. This has great depth. Full bodied, the palate has intensely concentrated and remarkably deep flavours of ripe blackberries, plums and liquorice, along with spice and black pepper suggestions. The fruit is sweet and rich, lusciously vibrant, unveiling nuances of eucalypt and cedary oak. The fruit is encased by fine-grained, flowery textures and considerable tannin grip. The palate is fulsome and balanced by the structure, and carries to a long, sweetly plush finish of liquorice, spices, herb and eucalypt complexities. This is a powerful and penetratingly rich Shiraz with blackberry, plum and liquorice fruit, with spicy, cedary oak and considerable, fine-grained structure and grip. Match with rich game meat dishes over the next 10+ years. Fruit from the ‘St Kitts’ and ‘Milton Park’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 40% new American oak. 19.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$60.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Eden Trail’ Eden Valley Riesling 2017
Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues on the rim. This has an elegant nose with soft and delicate aromas of lime fruit melded with white florals and subtle nuances of fresh herbs, mouthwatering minerals and saline nuances. The aromatics are presented with delicacy and finesse. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is delicate with soft flavours of limes and lemons entwined with white florals, subtle mineral notes and saline suggestions. The palate has a moderately concentrated core balanced by crisp, zesty acidity. Nuances of honeysuckle emerge and the wine carries to a dry, lingering finish with exotic florals. This is a delicate and elegant dry Riesling with fine citrus and mineral flavours, and subtle honied and exotic floral detail. Serve as an aperitif, and with Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from the ‘Mount Crawford’ vineyard, cool-fermented to 11.5% alc. and 2 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 3.15. 18.0+/20 Nov 2017 RRP AU$24.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Barossa Trail’ Barossa Grenache 2016
Light ruby-red colour with some depth, pale on edge. The nose is elegant in presentation with fragrant aromas of dark raspberry fruit with a harmonious amalgam of dark herbs and red florals unveiling a little spicy interest and subtle earthy elements. The aromatics form a soft but positive core. Full-bodied, the palate possesses lusciously sweet flavours of dark raspberries, dark-red florals, and notes of spice and earth. The flavours are near-ethereal in expression and guided by moderately extracted, fine-grained tannin structure, with balanced, integrated acidity and some underlying alcohol power. The flavours carry to a lingering finish of red fruits and florals. This is a fragrant, near-ethereal fruited Grenache with raspberry and floral fruit on a fine-grained, structured palate with some alcohol drive. Match with pasta, barbecued fare, poultry and pork over the next 4-5+ years. Hand-picked Grenache fruit from the Schild family’s ‘Saleyards Road’ vineyard, Nuriootpa, vines 80 y.o., fermented with 25% whole bunches to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in seasoned French oak. 17.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$35.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Barossa Trail’ Barossa Shiraz 2016
Full, very dark, near impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour. The nose is softy packed with deep and dense aromas of ripe blackberry fruit entwined with nuances of dark raspberries and boysenberries, along with subtle notes of black pepper and hints of spice. Full-bodied, the palate has concentrated and intense flavours of blackberries, dark raspberries and boysenberries, with black pepper, spices and dark-red florals. The sweet and luscious fruit is supported by plenty of fine-grained tannins with balanced acidity. The mouthfeel is fine in texture and grip, and the wine carries with some power to a long, sustained, elegant finish of black and dark-red berry fruit with spice and pepper notes. This is a sweetly rich, ripe and densely concentrated Shiraz with black and red fruits on a well-structures palate with drive and power. Match with roasted and grilled lamb, beef and venison over the next 6-8+ years. Shiraz fruit from ‘St Kitts Block 9’, northern Barossa, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged up to 12 months in 50% new French and American oak. 18.5+/20 Nov 2017 RRP AUS$35.00

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