Despite once being the most planted variety in Australia, Grenache is now just 1% of plantings. It’s decline, from the 1950’s through to the 2000’s, saw many of the oldest plantings disappear and when Giles & Fergal first started Thistledown, they committed to helping Grenache recover and to establish it as the signature variety for South Australia. Early on in their Grenache journey, Giles and Fergal were introduced to Sue Trott’s Home Block in the Blewitt Springs sub-region of McLaren Vale and have been refining how they vinify this fruit for many years, resulting in the first release of Sands of Time in 2017. It faithfully narrates the story of this remarkable vineyard, where, despite the paucity of the soils, the old bush vines flourish, producing small yields of intensely flavored fruit which Thistledown coax through a uniquely gentle fermentation. In just 3 vintages, this wine has established itself as one of the benchmark Grenaches in Australia, helping to fulfil Thistledown’s commitment to the long term future of the variety.
A wine of immense purity and power that is both light and intense at the same time. Highly aromatic with notes of sandalwood, dried orange, violets and wood spice on the nose, it follows through to a palate that is paradoxically elegant and vibrant but concentrated and persistent. Silky smooth with a glossy, highly attractive palate of wild strawberry, violets and the merest hint of cinnamon and wood smoke. A faithful expression of the site – beautiful, haunting aromatics, fine sandy tannins and wonderful, memorable length on the palate.
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96 pts James Halliday Wine Companion, Ned Goodwin MW
Sourced from the old, sandy Blewitt Springs Home Block of Sue Trott. Fermented wild, with attenuated maceration in eggs and the inclusion of 30% whole bunches imparting turmeric, sandalwood, cardamon scents and finely wrought, granular tannins akin to nebbiolo. Real pinosity and sap to this. Succulent notes of kirsch, fecund strawberry and anise. A parry of tension and thrust of gentle sweetness. Remarkable freshness. A wine that places domestic grenache among the world’s best.
96pts The Real Review, Huon Hooke
95+pts The Wine Front, Gary Walsh
All fruit for this wine was sourced from a single 75 year old vineyard of bush vine Grenache grown on pure sand. It’s beautiful aspect, raised elevation and free-draining deep sandy soils are the perfect spot for this grape and Giles and Fergal were really lucky to be offered the opportunity to purchase a little fruit from here. Hand-picked, on the way up (to optimal ripeness), the wine was vinified naturally in concrete eggs, where whole bunches were placed alternately with destemmed fruit to create a layer cake. A very gentle, slow, wild fermentation took several days to complete, following which the wine was transferred to a combination of barrels and concrete eggs. 10 months later, following the assemblage, the wine was bottled unfiltered and unfined.
2020 vintage conditions were perfect in many ways. A warm, dry & early season gave way to a mild, sometimes cool, February and March which allowed for ripening at a very relaxed pace. Small yields across all regions concentrated the fruit flavors, while the dry conditions led to low disease pressures.