2019 Thorn-Clarke “Shotfire” Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia (Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 3 g/l) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)

This newly released (September 9th, 2023) Barossa Valley Shiraz is a wonderfully accessible bottle of wine, offering a great example of gorgeously ripe Barossa fruit (with some terroir influences) at a pretty damn reasonable pricepoint.

Thorn-Clarke’s Shotfire range acknowledges the Clarke family’s connections to the Lady Alice mine in the Barossa goldfields from 1870 onward. The “shotfirer” was the name given to the person responsible for both the placement and detonation of the dynamite used to excavate these mines. 

The 2019 vintage is very highly thought of, producing wines of especially high quality but with greatly reduced yields. I’ve tasted this wine many times over the vintages, and I think that this one is a highpoint for the the Shotfire Shiraz, it it shows much more blance than I have witnessed in previous years.

 The grapes for this wine were sourced from vines in the St. Kitts and Milton Park vineyards. Once fermented, the wine was pumped over to ensure maximum colour, flavour, and tannin extraction. The wine was then aged for 14 months in 40% new American oak hogsheads, with the remainder seeing 2nd and 3rd fill cooperage.

In the glass, the bouquet is a powerful one, with a whole load of generous Barossa blackcurrant and blackberry fruit alongside some black pepper, warm vanilla spice, cloves, and a most welcome floral element bringing a lively freshness to the wine. Shotfire is usually benchmark Barossa for me, but for the first time with this particular vintage, there is an undeniable nod to the savoury Syrahs of the northern Rhône, and I’m sure that’s by design and not by accident.

The mouthfeel is also wholly generous when it comes to expressive blackcurrant fruit, and this will surely tick all the right boxes for those whose palates swing towards this classic, bold Barossa style. In previous vintages, I’ve found this wine to taste sweeter on the front of the palate, but this time around, it seems more in keeping with the overall feel of the wine: definitely forward but with a surprising amount of subtle complexity, and this vintage is all the better for it. The tannins are beautifully ripe and supple, tasting great right out of the bottle without any need for decanting despite their surprising firmness, and they integrate so well with the warm spicy oak. On the finish, there’s a pleasant pepperiness, once again taking me somewhere close to the Rhône Valley.

For me this is a wine that sits perfectly with sticky braised beef ribs, whether Asian or European in their preparation. Really enjoyable.

3.5 apples out of 5
(Three and a half out of a possible five apples)


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