Hopes are soaring that China will lift its punishing tariffs on Australian wine within weeks, enabling winemakers to start rebuilding after four years of pain.

Trade Minister Don Farrell, a former winemaker who lives on a vineyard in the Clare Valley, is confident Beijing will remove by March 31 the heavy import tariffs that were imposed after Canberra called for an investigation into the Covid pandemic in early 2020.

As the industry waits expectantly, The Australian Wine Club opens the door to its Secret Cellar this week, offering four super-premium reds that usually sell for as much as $96 a bottle for $29.99.

Our Secret Cellar was launched during the difficult Covid years to help sell through wines quickly and reduce pressure on winemakers’ stockholdings while waiting for a trade breakthrough with China.

It has become our most popular offer and is often sold out but, as regular readers know, there is a catch. To protect the brands of the wineries that are selling their wines at vastly lower prices than usual, we ask you to place your order without knowing the names of the wines on offer.

The risk is not quite as great as you may think – if you don’t like what you receive, we’ll refund your order.

This week, our lineup includes two 96-point reds from South Australia, a gorgeous grenache from seriously old vines in the Clare and a pinnacle Victorian shiraz that usually sells for more than $70 a bottle.

Beijing’s effective ban on Australian wine has wiped about $1.2bn sales a year from our export market and created a significant oversupply of Australian wine that will take several years to clear.

Senator Farrell plans to meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao, on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi next week, where he will again advocate for the removal of the wine tariffs, which are as high as 220 per cent.

“We have actively engaged with China to secure an earlier return to the market for our wine producers,” the Trade Minister told this column.

“If the duties on wine are not lifted in the agreed period, we will resume our dispute at the World Trade Organisation.”

In the meantime, enjoy these extra-special reds at these extra-special prices, while hoping our winemakers will have something to celebrate soon.


Victorian shiraz 2017

A flagship wine from one of Australia’s most iconic, family-owned wineries. Awarded 95 points from the Halliday Wine Companion. You’ll be spoiled with a cape of ripe blackberries, plums and dark cherries swirling with vanilla oak spice and leathery savouriness. Shiraz vines with an age approaching 100 years deliver the intense flavour profile, transported to a long finish on the back of velvety tannins.

A rare opportunity to acquaint yourself with a piece of Australian wine history at this Secret Cellar-only price. 14.5% alc; RRP $73 a bottle.

SPECIAL $29.99 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen


Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon 2021

Carrying the name of a legendary Coonawarra wine dynasty, this is a fine example of the premium-quality cabernet being produced from the region’s legendary terra rossa soil. Impeccably balanced, with star billing given to the gorgeous Coonawarra fruit. Choc-mint aromas lift from the glass, introducing a fusion of mulberry, blackberry and cassis flavours, and tobacco leaf and spicy notes. The appeal is lifted further by waves of fresh acidity and firm tannins. Matured in new and seasoned French oak for 18 months.

Drinking beautifully now but will develop further over the next decade. 96 Points from Wine Orbit and Winepilot. 14.5% alc; RRP $50 a bottle.

SPECIAL $29.99 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen


Clare Valley grenache 2020

Hand-picked fruit from dry-grown bush vines planted on an elevated site in Clare more than 70 years ago. This is generous, big-flavoured grenache. Aromas of strawberry, cherry and cedary spice lead to a voluptuous mouth-filling palate where red fruits dance with hints of dark chocolate and leather. Grippy tannins hold the show together.

Intense and balanced. 94 points from Halliday Wine Companion. Gold at the Mundus Vini Grand International Wine Awards in Germany. Superb value here. 14.5% alc; RRP $96 a bottle.

SPECIAL $29.99 a bottle in Secret Cellar dozen


Adelaide Hills shiraz 2021

Cool-climate shiraz at its best. Heady aromas of dark plum, blackcurrant, licorice and dark chocolate open the door to a silky fruit-driven palate with hints of pepper and earth. Delicious.

96 points from the Halliday Wine Companion and a Red star for exceptional value. 14.5% alc; RRP $26 a bottle.

SECRET CELLAR DEAL Three bottles of each wine above for $29.99 a bottle.SAVE $375 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.