The good folks at Thistledown believe that Grenache is Australia’s signature grape variety and they’re slightly obsessed with it. This is a grape that has been much maligned by the Australian industry over the years. Its traditionally high cropping levels made it a favorite for years with growers and corporate wine entities, and as a result it was never taken very seriously, as few wines of quality were made from it, until recently. While Thistledown is not alone in their endeavors to make great Grenache, they are unique in their methods and it is for this reason that they are now unanimously considered to be Australia’s top Grenache specialist. Much of this has to do with their approach to picking times, to the very detailed, gentle ferments that include their layer cake fermentation method– where they build multiple alternate layers of whole bunches with layers of berries, inside concrete vessels for their ferments. The mesh-like structure of the ferment allows juice movement within the vessel without the need for mechanical extraction and so this process results in a very gentle infusion rather than an extraction – a process more akin to making tea, than to making coffee! After years of experimentation, Thistledown have found that this process results in wines that are most faithful to their site, best able to narrate the stories of the vineyard and of its growers.
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92 pts James Halliday – “Employs old vines in the Riverland, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, matured in used French hogsheads and stainless steel. A confectionery streak was/is inevitable, and others will find it less distracting than I do. Regardless, it’s a good drink at the price. Drink soon.”
92 pts James Suckling – “Unmistakable fresh flowers and red berries here that are delivered amid gently earthy notes. The palate has a plush, vibrant and attractive feel with juicy, upbeat tannins to close. Drink now. Screw cap.”
91 pts Gary Walsh, The Wine Front – “Nice packaging. From the Riverland I believe. By heck love, you smell gorgeous tonight. Spicy, scrub herb and samphire, raspberry. Medium-bodied, gentle lick of tannin, saline and savory, solid finish. Light, but very easy to like.”
The fruit for this wine is sourced from a number of really old vineyards, primarily in South Australia’s Riverland region. These “soldier blocks” date back to WW1 and WW2, after which, the Australian government gifted land to returning solider to get them back on their feet. Thistledown has mapped out these old plots and works with the growers on a long term basis to add value to a previously forgotten resource. The result is a sustainable future for the growers and their vineyards, as well as delicious wine. Using the same philosophy and approach as for their top single vineyard wines, Thistledown taste extensively and pick on the way up to ensure that the fruit is balanced and energetic on arrival at the winery. Multiple ferments combine traditional techniques with open, spontaneous, 100% whole bunch cuvees, partial whole bunch ferments and a gentle extraction regime throughout to encourage the more “pinot” side of Grenache to emerge. As with all Thistledown wines, the approach is detailed, sensitive to each site, with winemaking that allows the fruit to sing.
Gorgeous deep garnet color. Bright aromatics and quite lifted on the nose with a beautifully layered, textural palate with notes of wild strawberry and spice.