A hugely important wine for Thistledown as this helped to redefine what contemporary, old vine Grenache is all about. This is a single vineyard project inspired by a remarkable, typically Australian tale. When Thistledown visited the first time, it was noticeable that there was a patch of young vines in the middle of the old vine plot. It turns out that there had been a power cut and during the outage some birds perched on a power line that crosses the vineyard. As the electricity surged through the line again, a combustible bird fell to the ground and set fire to the vineyard, destroying half of the original vines making a scarce resource even scarcer. Thankfully half of the vines survived and the fruit used for this wine, is from the older part of the vineyard. Perhaps showing his age, Giles immediately thought of the song She’s Electric by UK band Oasis, and from that moment on, the name became synonymous with this incredible old vineyard. Drawing on the themes of energy and current, Thistledown pick this wine early which, when combined with the wild, 50% whole bunch ferment and gentle plunges ensures a wine that may be pale, but is oh so aromatic, textural and infused with wild red fruits, herbs and minerals with layers of flavor that unfurl across the tongue.
The aromatic, perfumed aromas on the nose lead through to a delicate yet vibrant palate of spiced wild strawberry fruit, violets and cinnamon. Energetic and almost crisp on the palate. A touch leaner profile than some might expect, but nervy and focused, with laser like precision and length. Textured, enticing and delicious.
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96 pts Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com – “A super fragrant and floral rendition of this old-vine parcel from the Seaview district of the vale. It has aromas of poached strawberries and raspberries with a very seductive, whole bunch (50%) influence. The palate has such impressive detail with a very pure and sleekly layered shape, mapped out with super fine, layered tannins. The red-berry, pomegranate and blood-orange flavors are deliciously fresh. Drink or hold. Screw cap.”
96 pts & Great Value Award, Halliday Wine Companion – “Dry-grown on stingy soils in Seaview, manifest as abstemious yields. hand-picked with 50% whole bunch, ditto whole berries as the rest; all whacked into a gently extractive wild ferment, foot trodden. The tannic glean a reflection of everything prior and an ample post-ferment maceration. This smells like Turkish delight, tomato, wild raspberry, bergamot, sour cherry and something rocky. The tannins, sand-etched and beautifully detailed. A pliant density. This set of wines is so on the pulse! I am astounded, smitten and swooning, all at once.”
95 pts Gary Walsh, The Wine Front – “50% whole bunch. 675 bottles produced. She’s Electric. Are Friends Electric? Electric Avenue. Together in Electric Dreams. Do I need The Mercy Seat? Perhaps. Light and frisky Grenache, layered with spice over cranberry and fresh raspberry, rose and mint perfume. It’s energetic, light and ‘Pinot-like’, a little rasp of tannin, energy and tension, and a cool long finish that’s just so appealing, you want to dip back in straight away. Bloody beautiful. Love this style of Grenache.”
92 pts Huon Hooke, The Real Review – “Medium to full red color with a good purple tint. Sweet raspberry, strawberry aromas, fresh and clean. The wine is light to medium-bodied and soft, gentle of texture, length is respectable and drinkability is high. A charming wine. Remarkable for its age, but how will it develop with time? (50% whole-bunches; 675 bottles produced)”
91 pts Wines & Spirits Magazine – “From a vineyard in Seaview, this dry-farmed, old bush vine grenache shows the region’s warmth in its baked strawberry flavors and lasting ground black pepper spice. It’s bright in the middle, gentle in the end with a red fruit glow. Pour it with spicy grilled pork.”
Max Allen, Australian Financial Review – “Grapes from a vineyard in the Seaview area of the vale, a site boasting both old bush vines and younger plantings of grenache. Super-fresh, rose-petally and gorgeously sweet-fruited, with a tangy Campari-like edginess (50 per cent whole bunches in the ferment) keeping it lively and bright.
16.5 pts Jancis Robinson – “Just 675 bottles produced from old vines at the Seaview end of Chapel Hill Road. The fruit was hand-picked early in the morning of 1 March before ‘swift transport to the winery’ where 50% whole bunches were retained. A gentle foot-pressing helped establish the wild ferment. Aged in 300-litre used French oak hogsheads for six months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Giles Cooke MW of importers Alliance Wine in Scotland is nursemaid of Thistledown, which have three Grenaches in this collection. Bright mid garnet. Not much nose. But very lively palate with some raspberry notes and marked acidity (the whole-bunch effect?) and some sandy tannins. Easy to love, with real delicacy, but more youthful than the Bondar 2019. Lightly chewy at this point. Good with food?”
Though the season was late, cool and sometimes damp, it ended with lower than average rainfall. Above average rainfall in July and August filled soil profiles and dams but from then on the season was very dry. Dry weather characterized the 2018 vintage and the low disease pressure coupled with ideal conditions for flowering and early development set the vines up excellently. With virtually no rainfall between January and April, fruit quality in all areas was very good though some heat stress in February led to isolated defoliation.
This comes from a dry grown, 70 year old bush vine vineyard in the Seaview district of McLaren Vale, overlooking the Onkaparinga gorge. Farmed using organic principles, the wide spacing, small vines and extensive cover crops give this vineyard a distinctly natural feel. The low yielding vines (1.5 ton/acre) with good, open canopies, allowed for perfectly ripe fruit to be hand-picked with bright fruit and crisp natural acidity. 50% of the fruit is destemmed and very lightly crushed while leaving the rest as whole bunches. Gentle treading of the grapes resulted in a natural fermentation and during this process, the fruit was hand plunged twice daily. Once pressed off, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel before an 8 month stay in older, 300 & 500 litre French oak barrels. Finally, the wine was bottled without any fining or filtration. A mere 675 bottles produced.