Barossa shiraz is such a mega-weight brand in the world of wine that the quality of the region’s cabernet sauvignon often gets overlooked.

But serious wine operators such as Sam Clarke, the joint proprietor of Thorn-Clarke Wines, have never lost sight of just how good Barossa cabernet can be.

One of Thorn-Clarke’s best known wines, the Shotfire Quartage, is a cabernet blend, a generously flavoured red crafted in the style that has made Barossan wines so popular.

The Quartage 2020 – a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot – is one of four delicious red blends included in The Australian Wine Club’s mixed dozen deal of the week.

Thorn-Clarke was established by Sam’s parents, David and Cheryl Clarke (nee Thorn), in the late-1990s about a decade after they planted their first vines. In those early years, they sold their fruit to wineries before taking the plunge and making their first wine in 1998.

Sam said his father was a geologist and took great care to map the soils of vineyards to ensure suitable varieties were planted at the right sites.

“In every region, you do have different micro climates as well,’’ he said. “There are actually pockets of very good cabernet in the Barossa.”

The family have found that some of the best cabernet grows in the hills in the northern part of the Barossa around St Kitts and in the cool climate of Eden Valley.

Fruit from two of Thorn-Clarke’s vineyards – the Milton Park vineyard in Eden Valley and the St Kitts vineyard – feature in the 2020 Quartage.

“They are cooler sites, with poor soils, which restricts the yield and results in greater concentration of flavour in the grapes,’’ Sam said.

When Thorn-Clarke was getting started, veteran Eden Valley winemaker Jim Irvine acted as a consultant for the family and suggested they should take cabernet seriously.

Irvine was never afraid of thinking outside the square. He actually began his wine business in Eden Valley with the single aim of producing world-class merlot – a goal he achieved with his Grand Merlot winning best merlot in the world titles on several occasions.

Wine critic Dave Brookes, who reviews for the Halliday Wine Companion, remembers the Quartage becoming a hit in “the geeky US wine forums in the early 2000s for its bright, fruit-forward lines and light impact on American wallets”.

Twenty years later, little has changed: the Quartage continues to represent outstanding value and reminds us the Barossa is not just a shiraz powerhouse.


Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Barossa Quartage 2020

The blend is made up of 58% cabernet sauvignon, 16% cabernet franc, 16% merlot and 10% petit verdot. Ripe blackberries and blackcurrants mingle with sweet cassis, spice, coffee, earth and nuances of graphite and white pepper. Luxurious mouthfeel and fresh acidity drives to a lingering finish. Complex and classy. 95 points from Angus Hughson. 14.5% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $24.99 a bottle in any dozen; $23.99 a bottle in Red Blends dozen.


Kilikanoon Morrison Shiraz Cabernet 2020

Powerful blend of shiraz and cabernet, enticing with aromas of mint, rosemary, blueberry pie, vanilla and pepper. Classic Clare Valley flavours of mulberry, blueberry and choc-mint. Dusty tannins. Lovely drinking. 94 points Halliday Wine Companion. 14.5% alc; RRP $55 a bottle.

SPECIALS $50 a bottle in any dozen; $23.99 a bottle in Red Blends dozen.


Paxton Queen of the Hive McLaren Vale Red Blend 2021

This grenache and shiraz blend shows red fruits and plums on the nose with hints of aniseed and orange zest. Raspberries, blueberries, plum and licorice flavours are carried on soft tannins. Plush texture. 92 points from Halliday Wine Companion and red star for exceptional value 14% alc; RRP $25 a bottle.

SPECIALS $21.99 a bottle in any dozen; $23.99 a bottle in Red Blends dozen.


Zonte’s Footstep Splitting Hares Tempranillo Grenache 2021

Fresh raspberry and blueberry scents lift from the glass. Sweet fruit (red currants and blueberries) balances precisely against savoury pan juice flavours flowing from the tempranillo. Acidity keeps it fresh. Salted chocolate notes on the finish. A treat. 96 points from Winestate magazine. 13.5% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.

SPECIALS $19.99 a bottle in any dozen; $23.99 a bottle in Red Blends dozen.

RED BLEND DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $23.99 a bottle. SAVE $147 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.