When China slammed the door shut on Australian wineries, our wine club opened the Secret Cellar to help soak up excess stock of premium wines by offering our members access to never-before-seen discounts.

Almost two years after our first Secret Cellar offer, our friends in the Australian wine industry are still battling tough days, with almost $1.3bn in sales to China each year being wiped out since Beijing imposed punishing tariffs in late 2020.

While hopes are slowly rising that China may end the trade freeze in the months ahead, the Secret Cellar returns this week, with four high-quality reds that normally retail for an average price of more than $70 a bottle available at a discount of more than 50 per cent across the special mixed dozen.

As members of The Australian Wine Club know, the Secret Cellar has become our most popular offer and is often sold out – but there is a catch.

The Secret Cellar aims to find homes for excess stock of premium wines.

To protect the brands of the wineries who are selling their wines at a much lower price than usual, we ask you to place your order without knowing the names of the wines on offer.

But the risk is not as great as you may think – if you don’t like what you receive, we’ll refund your order. No questions asked.

To help you consider the offer, I do try to give as much information about these wines as I can without giving the wineries’ identities away.

Our line-up this week includes a plush 97-point Barossa shiraz, a mouth-watering Western Australian cabernet sauvignon, a 95-point single-vineyard shiraz from Coonawarra and a classic Rhone-style grenache/shiraz/mourvedre from the private vineyard of a highly regarded Barossan wine family.

Barossa Australia chief executive Scott Hazeldine says wineries continue to face “pretty significant headwinds” due to the China slowdown, which came in the wake of restaurants and bars being shut down during the Covid outbreak.

“This has been the most challenging period since the early 1980s,’’ he said, referring to the major oversupply of grapes 40 years ago.

But he said there was “cautious optimism” that the China market may come back online in the months ahead, although it was unlikely sales would bounce back to previous levels for many years.

In the meantime, enjoy these terrific reds and these prices, while sparing a thought for those battling away trying to keep wineries open and vineyards operational.

Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019

Intense Barossan from a single-vineyard site in the heart of the valley. Has scored multiple gold medals at international wine shows, including Great Gold at the International Wine Show and Double Gold at the Gilbert & Gaillard International Competition. Black fruits, chocolate mocha, Christmas cake and savoury pan juices on the nose, opening the door to a classic mix of Barossa shiraz flavours: blackberries, dark plums, dried fruits and spices and toasty vanilla. Silky-smooth tannins. Matured in 40 per cent new French and American oak for 20 months.

A mouth-filling experience. 97 points from Wine Orbit; 95 points from Australian Wine Showcase Magazine. 15% alc; RRP $100 a bottle.

SPECIAL $33.25 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen only

Coonawarra Shiraz 2019

A single-vineyard beauty that offers waves of generous, concentrated flavours in a lithe, medium-bodied structure. Lifted aromas of dark cherries, spiced poached plums, brambles and vanilla lead to a fantail of flavours: blackberries, blueberries, cake spice, dark cocoa, black pepper, bay leaf and cedary oak. Silky tannins carry these juicy fresh flavours to a long, elegant finish.

Immediately satisfying but should age gracefully in the cellar for a decade. 95 points from Halliday Wine Companion and Wine Orbit. 14% alc; RRP $80 a bottle.

SPECIAL $33.25 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen only

Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

This classy cabernet from Western Australia’s exciting Great Southern region would line up nicely against a good Bordeaux selling for four times the price. Expressive aromas of blackberries, dark plums, graphite and black pepper rise from the glass, along with earthy, herbal notes and baking spice. You’ll enjoy a perfectly poised palate where fruit and savoury characters are woven together by fine tannins. Succulent texture, with understated power that flows through to the end.

Another reason Western Australian cabernet continues to turn heads on the world stage. 94 points from Halliday’s Wine Companion. 14.5%; RRP $59 a bottle.

SPECIAL $33.25 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen only

Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2018

From a vineyard owned by a highly regarded wine family in the Barossa comes this beautifully balanced Rhone-style blend (60% grenache/30% shiraz/10% mourvèdre). Packed with dark cherry, plum and raspberry flavours with brambly spice notes, roasted meats and tobacco adding complexity. Dusty tannins on a long, smooth finish.

Gorgeous drinking. 14.5% alc; RRP $50 a bottle.

SPECIAL $33.25 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen only

SECRET CELLAR DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $33.25 a bottle. SAVE $468 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.