Presenting Thorn-Clarke Wines at Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015

Thorn-Clarke Wines is coming from Australia to pour their wines for you at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  I’ve known and tasted their wines for many years while I was part of the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver. Read about Thorn-Clarke Wines here (and some bonus material at the end by me!).

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Thorn-Clarke WinesThe name Thorn-Clarke derives literally from the relationship of two long time Barossa families. Founders David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn) work with their son Sam in this family orientated business. The Thorn-Clarke family has a long history in the Barossa – six generations of involvement in the regions world famous wine industry.

Today the Clarke family is one of the Barossa Valleys largest grape growers and winemakers with over 700 acres of vineyard spread across four sites in the Barossa and Eden Valley. Having grown grapes and sold the fruit to other wineries for a number of years the Thorn-Clarke name is relatively young as a winemaker with the release of the first wines in 2001.

Clarke family

Clarke family

Although only making wines for approximately 10 years the winery has received a five star rating from Australian Wine critic James Halliday (awarded to wineries regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity) , and U.S wine writer Robert Parker has described Thorn-Clarke as producing some of the best value reds in Australia. The record on the Australian wine show circuit over this period is enviable and includes 18 trophies and 65 Gold.

The Wines We Will Pour

  • Shotfire Shiraz
  • Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Terra Barossa Shiraz/PV/Cab
  • Milton Shiraz
  • William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon (Karl: not to be missed)
  • Eden Valley Riesling

Bonus Material – A Thorn-Clarke Tasting with the SWWS

Sam Clarke

Sam Clarke

In October 2005 the South World Wine Society held a tasting of a portfolio of Thorn-Clarke’s wines.  Below are my notes about the tasting.  Note that some of the wines, albeit different vintages, will be poured at the Wine Festival in Feb 2015.

The Wines We Tasted:

2003 Terra Barossa Eden Valley Pinot Gris
2003 Terra Barossa Shiraz
2003 Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon
2003 Terra Barossa Cuvee
2003 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz
2003 Shotfire Ridge Quartage
2002 William Randall Shiraz

The Food We Enjoyed with the Wines:

– Firecracker Prawns – sweet chili
– Grilled Harissa Marinated Lamb Chops-mint pesto
– Carpaccio of Beef-pecarino, truffle oil
– Beef Satay ginger balsamic reduction
– Polenta Cakes mostarda, frica

This evening we were privileged to enjoy wines with Mr. Sam Clarke from the Thorn-Clarke winery. Sam gave us some background into the history of the winery, and insider info on the different wines we were tasting, and other anecdotes through the evening. The first wine, our only white wine of the evening, was the 2003 Terra Barossa Eden Valley Pinot Gris. This wine was light lemon in colour. The aromas were of green fruits and citrus. This wine spent 3-4 months on it’s lees to add complexity to the wine. It had low acidity and a medium finish. An enjoyable Pinot Gris.

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire and Barossa Shiraz

Thorn-Clarke Shotfire and Barossa Shiraz

Our first red wine this evening was the 2003 Terra Barossa Shiraz. This wine was deep red in colour. It had aromas of vanilla and ecalyptus. There were strong tannins. There was nice spice and black cherry flavours. This wine went well with the lamb chops. Our next wine was the 2003 Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a deep purple colour. It had a very intense aromas of sausage, smokiness, menthol and cherries. The wine had good tannins with some sweetness. This wine went well with the lamb chops also. The last of the “Terra Barossa” entry level wines was the 2003 Terra Barossa Cuvee, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvedre. This wine was black-purple coloured. There was some swee candy, oak, and dark fruit aromas. The wine was very intense on the palate. There was some sweetness, a round mouth feel, and not overpowering tannins. It had a nice long finish.

One step up in the portfolio is the Shotfire Ridge line. The labels of these bottles show geologist’s field tools. Sam’s father was a geologist at one time and shotfire is the name of the person that sets charges, I believe… The first wine was the 2003 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz. This wine was deeply coloured, purple. It had caramel, vanilla, chocolate and cherry aromas. There was a big mouthfeel to this wine. The tannins were not overpowering. There was some sweetness. This wine went very well with the beef satay. The next wine was the 2003 Shotfire Ridge Quartage. It was a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This wine was red in colour. There were many aromas, such as cedar, coffee, dark fruit and violet (which I think is from the Petit Verdot). This wine was spicy and had flavours of blackberries and cherries, with some sweetness. The tannins were not too strong. it was a well integrated wine. The Quartage went well with the lamb chops and the beef satay.

Our last wine of the evening was a top level wine in their portfolio, the 2002 William Randall Shiraz. This wine was dark purple in colour. It had dusty, cedar, chocolate and dark fruit aromas. The wine was very smooth with a good mouth feel and long length. There were flavours of cherries and blackberries. After the wine stayed in the glass for a while, one could also taste chocolate. Overall a top quality wine.

Tasting Selection

Our favourite red wines were:
1) 2002 William Randall Shiraz
2) 2003 Shotfire Ridge Shiraz

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.