This wine possesses a beautifully complex, aromatic nose of violets, wild cherry, rosemary and warming spice. The palate is energetic yet polished and smooth with vibrant cherry, spice, wild strawberry and licorice on the palate. Medium bodied but multi-layered and textural with a very long, aromatic finish.
This is the benchmark for contemporary Aussie Grenache. It hails from Blewitt Springs, the Grand Cru of Aussie Grenache if ever there was one. Giles and Fergal have spent years searching out the best vineyard plots in this small Grenache enclave and now have enviable access to many of the best. In any given year, the Vagabond will be the sum of 3 – 4 different vineyards, all old, dry grown, bush vines planted on the characteristic sand. Exhaustive tasting in the vineyard leads to a harvest that is earlier than traditional and a vinification quite unlike any other wine. The core of this wine is wild fermented in a concrete pyramid layered with alternating whole bunches and crushed fruit. Fermentation begins spontaneously, the layers of whole bunches acting like a mesh through which the fermenting juice moves. Without any other form of extraction, this method retains the individual vineyard characters and energy of site that is the signature of Thistledown. More akin to Pinot than old school Grenache, the Vagabond is textural, aromatic, refined yet utterly delicious in equal measure.
96pts (5 stars) GT Wine – Gourmet Traveler
96pts James Suckling
A powerful and detailed grenache that offers up Campari-like red fruit and herbs with raspberries and iron. The palate is polished, in that there’s plenty of ripe, deep-set tannin here, carrying red-fruit flavors long. Drink or hold. Screw cap.
95 pts James Halliday
Borne by elevated sand, flecked with Blewitt Springs ironstone. A wine that sits below the single-vineyard hierarchy albeit can, at times, equal if not better them. Raspberry liqueur, anise, white pepper, lilac and orange zest. Gorgeous aromatics framed by herb-doused tannins. Pinosity and grip. Flare and excitement. Length of finish eased across a throttle of dangerous drinkability.
94pts The Wine Front, Gary Walsh
93pts The Real Review, Stuart Knox
From 4 separate, old, dry grown, bush trained vineyards in the revered Blewitt Springs district of McLaren Vale, planted in deep sands with some ironstone. The fruit was all hand-picked and 68% was then wild fermented in a concrete pyramid which had layers of whole bunches and alternating layers of crushed fruit. This ferment had no mechanical extraction. The balance was wild fermented in an open fermenter with 35% whole bunches, and was hand plunged twice daily. This portion was aged in puncheons while the pyramid fermented was pressed back to a concrete egg and oak puncheons for maturation. The resulting layers of complexity and depth of flavor are exactly what was aimed for. Racked from there into blending tank and then straight to bottle, unfined and unfiltered.
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.
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