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Tasting Reviews




Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’, ‘Eden Trail’, ‘Shotfire’ and ‘William Randell’ Releases


22-Oct-2018
The alliance of the two well-established Barossa wine-focussed families created a consummate all-rounder in the region. The Thorn-Clarke label makes a full range of wines that cover the spectrum of the Barossa and Eden Valleys across all the essential varieties in contemporary and traditional styles. The 6th generation wine company has 270 ha of vines, the whites centred around the cooler Eden Valley, and the reds in the Barossa, but the relatively new ‘Eden Trail’ wines are expressions of regionality across both colours.

Every year since 2013, I have had the opportunity of looking at a full range of the Thorn-Clarke wines, and I can’t help but be impressed with the development of the more accessible wines into excellent, elegant, fruit-focussed wines of freshness, and the retaining of the more hearty, ripe, traditional styles. What is even more remarkable is the ever-increasing quality of the wines, reflecting winemaker Peter Kelly’s team’s familiarity with the fruit and vineyards, and the growing maturity of the vines. Here, I look at a new selection of Thorn-Clarke wines, 2018 and 2017 ‘Sandpiper’ wines, 2018 and 2017 ‘Eden Trail’ wines, 2017 and 2016 ‘Shotfire’ bottlings, and two 2016 ‘William Randell’ flagship reds. The selection is of extremely high quality and the challenges of the 2017 season met very well here. www.thornclarkewines.com.au

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Riesling 2018
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale edged. The nose is very fresh and intense with penetrating and deep aromas of pure lime and lemonade fruit along with subtle white florals and a suggestion of saline, unfolding mouthwatering herb and mineral nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has intense and penetrating flavours of limes and lemons and white florals. The fruit has richness and lusciousness, balanced by fine acid cut, and the wine flows with excellent energy along a zesty, refreshing line with very fine textures, leading to a long, lingering finish. This is a beautifully penetrating and intense dry Riesling with luscious lime and lemo flavours with white florals and minerals on a mouthwatering palate. Match with Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese fare over the next 4 years. ‘Mount Crawford’ Eden Valley fruit fermented in stainless-steel to 11.5% alc., and 4.2 g/L RS, TA7.61 and pH 3.01. 18.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Pinot Gris 2018
Bright, even, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is a little shy in expression but gently fills with aromas of white stonefruits with savoury stonefruit kernels at the core and suggestions of fresh nutty elements. This unfolds a chalky minerality with aeration and shows good presence. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the flavours of white stonefruits, pears and florals form a moderately concentrated, rounded heart with good drive and line. The mouthfeel is soft-textured with integrated acidity, and the wine flows with presence leading to a restrained, subtle finish. This is a moderately concentrated dry Pinot Gris with stonefruit, pear and floral flavours on a rounded core with good weight. Match with Middle Eastern fare over the next 3 years. ‘Mount Crawford’ Eden Valley fruit fermented in tank to 11.5% alc. and 3.26 g/L RS. 17.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Chardonnay 2018
Bright, very pale straw colour, near colourless. The nose is elegant and slender in proportion with a fresh heart of white and yellow stonefruits along with nuances of citrus fruit interwoven with some nutty oak. This is steely and refreshing in expression. Medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and gently fresh with restrained flavours of white and yellow stonefruits, citrus fruit and a little nutty oak. The mouthfeel is brisk and fresh with crisp acidity, and the wine flows along a very fine-textured line with moderate drive and a light finish. This is an elegant, gently refreshing Chardonnay with light flavours and fresh acidity. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 2-3 years. ‘Mount Crawford’ Eden Valley fruit fermented in stainless-steel with 20% in new French oak to 12.0% alc., the wine aged 4 months in barrel with batonnage, but avoiding MLF. 16.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Shiraz 2017
Full, very dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, youthful in appearance. The nose is softly full with rich aromas of blackberries and black plums interwoven with a little minerally reduction, unfolding some spice, liquorice and pepper elements. Full-bodied, the palate is soft, open and accessible with sweet fruit flavours of dark raspberries and blackberries with notes of plums and a little liquorice and eucalypt. The reductive elements are integrated and the palate has a plush mouthfeel, with some underlying alcohol drive. The tannins are soft and rounded, and the acidity integrated, lending a smooth, easy mouthfeel. This is a soft, plush, open and sweet-fruited Shiraz with dark raspberry, plum and peppery flavours, a hint eucalypt with supple tannins and a little alcohol drive. Serve with grilled and roasted red meats over the next 3+ years. Fruit from ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged up to 12 months in seasoned French oak. 17.0+/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is elegantly concentrated and tightly bound with pure aromas of blackcurrant fruit with subtle notes of blackberries and cassis entwined with fresh and dark herbs, showing mint, unfolding a little menthol. This has clarity and definition. Full-bodied, the palate is elegant in proportion, but has depth, intensity and penetration of blackcurrant fruit with notes of fresh and dark herbs, mint and cassis. The fruit is underlined by moderate tannin extraction lending good structure and supple grip with integrated acidity, and the wine carries to a light, lingering finish of blackcurrants. This is an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrant, dark herb, mint and cassis flavours on a supple, fine-textured palate. Match with roasted lamb over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10-12 months in seasoned French oak. 17.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$20.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Eden Trail’ Eden Valley Riesling 2018
Bright, pale straw-yellow colour with slight lemon-green hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is elegant and beautifully fragrant with an aromatic array of white and yellow florals with a core of lime fruit, subtly entwined with mouthwatering mineral nuances, and refreshing hints of herb elements. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has a taut and concentrated, penetrating core of finely packed flavours of lime fruit melded with white and yellow florals and thirst-quenching minerals, The acidity is very fine, showing low pH , but with a near-electric crispness. The fruit flows with excellent linearity and drive, carrying long and sustained mouthwatering finish of citrus fruits and florals. This is a taut, concentrated and penetrating dry Riesling with an array of aromatics on a very fine-textured, thirst-quenching palate. Serve with seafood and Asian fare over the next 4-5 years. ‘Mount Crawford’ fruit from the Eden Valley, cool-fermented to 11.5% alc. and 0.31 g/L RS, TA 7.8g/L and pH 2.82. 19.0-/20 Oct 2018 RRP AU$26.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Eden Trail’ Eden Valley Chardonnay 2017
Bright, even, light straw-yellow colour, little paler on the edge. The nose is elegantly concentrated with aromas of white and yellow stonefruits with fresh citrus fruits melded with nutty and toasty oak. This has a soft freshness with intensity and complexing detail to the aromatics. Medium-bodied, the palate is crisp and refreshing, with bright and vibrant, elegantly expressed flavours of citrus fruits and stonefruits entwined with nutty and toasty oak. A little creamy barrel-ferment adds richness, and is balanced by lively acidity. The flavours are up-front and are carried by plenty of energy with good linearity, leading to a lingering finish of citrus fruit and toast. This is a crisp and vibrant citrus-fruited Chardonnay with nutty and toasty oak, on a bright and poised palate with plenty of energy. Serve with grilled and roasted seafood over the next 3+ years. Fruit from ‘Block 1, Mount Crawford’, a portion indigenous yeast barrel-fermented with high solids, some of the oak new, and a portion tank-fermented with partial solids to 11.5% alc., the wine aged 9 months in barrel undergoing batonnage, and minimal MLF. 18.0/20 Oct 2018 RRP $26.00

Thorn-Clark ‘Shotfire Barossa Shiraz 2017
Dark, deep, near impenetrable, black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim, youthful in appearance. The nose is softly full and voluminous with moderately deep aromas of blackberry fruit with nuances of black plums, and hints of dark raspberries. Soft, integrated notes of spices, liquorice and pepper add to the richness, and the nose reveals nuances of dark herbs. Full-bodied, the palate has vibrant flavours of ripe blackberries with dark raspberries, black plums and black pepper, with liquorice, spice and floral elements. The fruit is rich, sweet and mouthfilling and underlined by fine-grained tannin extraction and grip lending structure and mouthfeel, with fresh acidity enhancing the vitality. The flavours show aromatic lift as they carry to a lingering finish. This is a rich and sweetly ripe Shiraz with vibrant blackberry and plum fruit along with raspberries, spices and liquorice on a finely extracted palate. Match with lamb, beef and venison over the next 6+ years. Fruit from ‘St Kitts’, Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 14 months in 40% new American oak hogsheads. 18.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $28.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ ‘Quartage’ Barossa 2016
Full, dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is softly full and well-packed with concentrated, ripe aromas of blackberries and blackcurrants along with black plums and nuances of redcurrants. The aromatics are refined and show intensity, unfolding subtle nutty oak. The aromatics grow in density with aeration. Full-bodied, the has deep and softly packed , concentrated flavours of ripe blackberries and blackcurrants with plums and notes of nutty, spicy oak. The fruit is harmoniously interwoven and balanced with the oak and supported by ine-grained flowery tannin extraction with integrated acidity. The flavours grow in richness to fill the mouth and carry to a concentrated, lingering, nuanced finish. This is a softly concentrated and densely packed, ripe Bordeaux-varietal blend with harmoniously integrated and balanced black fruits on a very fine-grained palate. Match with roasted red meats over the next 7-9 years. A blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot from the ‘St Kitts’, ‘Milton Park’ and ‘Kabininge’ vineyards, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in French oak. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $28.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘William Randell’ Barossa Shiraz 2016
Very dark, near saturated lack-hue ruby-red colour. The nose is full and sweetly ripe with vibrant and luscious aromas of blackberries melded with boysenberries and black plums along with a layer of black pepper and Asian spices, and sweet, nutty oak. This has excellent intensity and unfolds layers of richness with exotic detail. Full-bodied, the palate has beautifully ripened and sweetly luscious flavours of blackberries with notes of boysenberries and black plums, with complexing black pepper, spices and exotic oak. The flavours are succulent, decadent and opulent, and are supported by considerable fine-grained tannin structure and grip to match the power of the fruit. The acidity is ripe and restrained, lending a thread of vitality that sees the wine carry to a sustained, rich and sweet finish. This is a beautifully rich, decadent and opulent Shiraz with ripe black fruits, spices and exotic oak on a palate with great structure and power. Serve with roasted lamb and venison, and slow-cooked game meat over the next 10+ years. A barrel selection wine. Fruit from ‘St Kitts’ and ‘Milton Park’, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 40% new American oak. 19.5-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $60.00

Thorn-Clarke ‘William Randell’ Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-hued ruby-red colour with some purple on the rim. The nose is initially a little restrained but shows plenty of presence and depth with well-packed and concentrated aromas of ripe blackcurrants and blackberries with hints of plums entwined with cassis liqueur, with nuances of dark herbs and mint. The aromatics are harmoniously integrated and grow in depth with aeration. Full-bodied, the palate has a rich and softly sweet, rounded core of fully-ripened blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with notes of plums, cassis liqueur and dark herbs. The oaking is sensitive and is integral. The flavours are integrated and balanced, and the fruit is supported by very fine-grained tannin extraction lending a refined structure. The acidity is soft, but there is power and energy driving the wine, which flows seamlessly to a smooth, sustained finish. This is a sweetly rich and harmoniously balanced Cabernet Sauvignon with ripe black fruits, cassis and herbs on a fine-grained, smooth flowing palate. Serve with roasted red meats over the next 8-10 years. A barrel selection wine. Fruit from ‘St Kitts’ and ‘Milton Park’, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged approx. 18 months in 40% new French oak. 19.0/20 Oct 2018 RRP $60.00
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