As we slip into the cooler winter months, you may hear a wine-loving colleague refer to the term claret when talking about a red wine.

So what is a claret? It’s worth untangling the story behind this centuries-old expression because it’s led to the creation of a truly unique wine style in Australia.

You’ll find a beautifully blended claret in The Australian Wine Club’s deal of the week below – a collection of four rich, full-flavoured reds from high-quality producers, perfect for sipping around the fire. We’re offering a 40 per cent discount in this Winter Reds deal this week.

Knappstein senior winemaker Michael Kane. Picture: Supplied

The term claret was popularised in England in the 1700s, in reference to easy-to-drink red blends imported from Bordeaux. The word actually comes from the French term, “clairet” – a rose-style light red wine made in Bordeaux and exported going back to the 1400s.

The idea of claret came to Australia with the British but winemakers such as Penfolds innovator Max Schubert took clarets in a direction forbidden in France by blending shiraz with cabernet.

This blend had actually originated in France, with syrah from the Rhone being blended with cabernet from Bordeaux, but this delightful marriage didn’t last long as new laws came into force specifying which grape varietals could be planted in which regions and restricting the blending of grapes from different regions.

So in Bordeaux today, you can enjoy blends such as cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc, while in the Rhone you’ll find syrah, grenache and mourvedre wines.

Happily, in Australia, our shiraz-cabernet clarets live on – in fact, our most famous wine, Schubert’s Penfolds Grange, is a blend of these grapes most years.

“Our clarets, the shiraz cabernet blend, is a classic Aussie icon – it’s really only made here,’’ says Knappstein senior winemaker Michael Kane, whose Spring Farm Clare Valley Shiraz Cabernet 2020 features in our deal of the week.

Michael, who has visited and worked in wine regions across the globe, including Burgundy, Champagne, Oregon, Napa and Central Otago, says the juicy red fruits of Clare Valley shiraz combine beautifully with the savouriness and heavier density of cabernet.

“We adjust the blend each year depending on the vintage but it normally ends up being around 70 per cent shiraz and 30 per cent cabernet,’’ he says.

Together, these grapes create a totally different-tasting wine than either a straight shiraz or cabernet. So raise a glass to the Aussie claret – a delicious and unique blend that’s well worth celebrating.

Knappstein Spring Farm Clare Valley Shiraz Cabernet 2020

Silky 70%-30% combination, with juicy flavours of plums, mulberries and blackcurrants melding with dark chocolate and mint-cream on the back palate. Elegant, medium-bodied style with firm tannins and a lingering finish.

Outstanding value. Won gold at the Catavinum World Wine and Spirits Competition this year and gold at the China Wine and Spirits Best Value Awards. 14% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $19.99 a bottle in any mixed dozen; $18.99 a bottle in Winter Reds dozen.

Zonte’s Footstep Baron Von Nemesis Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019

Rich and lusciously intense. Classic Barossa, with all the trimmings. Dark chocolate, blood plums, Christmas pudding spice and vanilla aromas whet the appetite. Fleshy and generous fruit flavours flow across the palate: think blackberries, plums, mulberries and raspberries, with dark cocoa, coconut and hints of licorice. Powerful with juicy acidity.

Trophy for Best Shiraz at Critics Challenge 2022; gold medal at the European Wine Challenge. 14.5% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.

SPECIALS $24.99 a bottle in any mixed dozen; $18.99 a bottle in Winter Reds dozen.

Tahbilk Estate Shiraz 2018

From Victoria’s oldest family-owned winery comes a finely honed shiraz showing classic cool-climate aromas of violets, black pepper, smoked charcuterie, blue fruits, vanilla and black tea. You’ll find juicy plums and raspberries on the palate, with spice and cedary notes. Ripe tannins complete the picture. An easy-drinking charmer.

Established in 1860, Tahbilk takes sustainability seriously and is one of only eight wineries worldwide to be classified carbon-neutral. 14% alc; RRP $26 a bottle.

SPECIALS $19.99 a bottle in any mixed dozen; $18.99 a bottle in Winter Reds dozen.

Peter Lehmann Pastor’s Son Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

This rich Barossa cabernet entices with expressive blackcurrant and dark chocolate aromas, with a hint of eucalypt. Generous lashings of rich dark blackcurrants, forest fruits and chocolate mocha flavours fill the mouth.

Velvety, smooth and an absolute bargain. 93 points from Wine Folio. 14.5% alc; RRP $26 a bottle.

SPECIALS $15.99 a bottle in any mixed dozen; $18.99 a bottle in Winter Reds dozen.

WINTER REDS DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $18.99 a bottle. SAVE $153 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.