This week we are featuring an old favorite, a wine that has been pleasing wine critics and wine lovers alike for vintage after vintage - Thorn-Clarke Winery's Shotfire Shiraz. Fran Kysela shares the story of how he got started with this Barossa Shiraz:
It was October 2001 and I was searching for & sourcing for Australian wines, as it was clear that Australia was going to become the "next big thing." After tasting about 100 assorted wines, I decided I liked the style of Barossa, Shiraz best - chocolate, cherries, mint and eucalyptus - so I started focusing on Barossa growers (years later, Barossa Shiraz would develop its reputation as the Icon Shiraz for Australia).
Late on a Thursday afternoon, the carrier delivered a beat-up box of 12 bottles from Australia, 10 of which were leaking. The box was from a guy named Steve Machin, who had just left Hardys and was beginning work with the Clarke family on setting up a new possible brand. The samples were sticky and messy, but I popped the corks anyway.....and I was glad that I did. The wine inside tasted like Christmas - mint, eucalyptus, camphor, & evergreen aromas. Great acidity, color, flavor and length of finish - very tasty. These samples were so good & so exciting, especially compared to what I had tasted prior, that I immediately called the number on the card. I didn't realize that it was a Perth number (Western Australia) and it was actually 3:00 in the morning. It turned out I was calling the residence of David and Cheryl Clarke, where a sleepy Cheryl answered the phone. I told her, you don't know who I am, but we are going to be doing business together very soon, and lots of it! After a few months of talking and faxing (yes faxing) and sorting out the details, I began importing their wines.
That super-star wine from the busted box of samples is the wine we know today as Shotfire Shiraz. It was originally called Stone Jar, but fortunately we came up with a better name. 14 years later, I'm still glad to be importing Shotfire Shiraz & other Thorn-Clarke selections....and I'm still glad that Cheryl Clarke woke up for that phone call.
Folks throughout the US are glad that Fran Kysela made that 3AM phone call! Every vintage of Shotfire Shiraz scores at least 90 points, with some vintages scoring as high as 94 points with Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. It's made Wine Spectator's Top 100 list on more than one occasion, and it's in Kysela's Top 20 every year.
The 2012 Shotfire Shiraz is described as "bright purple. Sexy cassis, blackberry and vanilla aromas are complemented by hints of peppery spices, licorice and mocha. Fleshy and broad on the palate, offering intense dark berry flavors, a touch of spicecake and very good depth. The licorice and cassis notes repeat on the energetic, youthfully tannic finish." (Tanzer, 91pts)