Thistledown, The Distant Light Grenache- Shiraz, Mclaren Vale & Barossa, Australia, 2018
Masters of Wine, Giles Cooke & Fergal Tynan, founded Thistledown Wines in 2010 after discovering iconic vineyard sites in the McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.
They make hand-made, small batch wines that perfectly illustrate the benefits of great sites and intelligent, minimalist winemaking.
A detailed, complex tapestry of vineyards comprising young and old, trellised and bush-vine, their common thread being vibrant, energetic fruit that is concentrated but balanced. The Shiraz components come from Adrian Hoffmann’s Old Home Block, Joel Mattschoss’ Shiraz on Menglers Hill and 2 blocks of Andy Kalleske’s blocks in Koonunga/Ebenezer. All are trellised, 2 spur pruned, Joel’s cane pruned. The Grenache comes from Sue Trott’s Home Block in Blewitt Springs and Bernard Smart’s vineyard in Clarendon. The former bush vine on sand and the latter bush vine of clay loams with quartz and ironstone.
Though the winemaking was hugely detailed, the aim was to create something seamless. All fruit was hand-picked and wild fermented with varying percentage of whole bunch and a generally gentle extraction process. Ageing in a mix of concrete and larger French oak. No fining or filtration.
Large French Oak barrels
% wine oaked: 100
% new oak: None
The Distant Light is what keeps many of us moving forward. It is the faint, twinkling lights of a harbour, gently beckoning home weary fishermen after time at sea. It is the comforting glow of a wood fire burning post a long, winter’s walk. It is the dazzling, azure blue of the ocean, glimpsed through gullies after a long drive to the coast. It is the streak of light on the horizon, viewed from a hilltop vineyard, ushering in a new dawn. An intoxicating, ethereal nose of sweet, spicy black cherry, cassis and balsam. The palate unravels its silky, textural beauty abundant with wild strawberry, north African spice, autumnal wood smoke and hints of smoky, grilled meat flavours.
Turkey, rich tomato based pasta sauce, and maybe even a slow braised lamb ragu.
The Wine Companion 95 Points
A neighbourly blend of grenache from Blewitt Springs and Clarendon in the Vale, with warmer shiraz from Ebenezer and Mengler Hill. Picked by hand, fermented under the aegis of spontaneity with ample whole-bunch seasoning and maturation in top-drawer French oak. This is seamless. Again, the tannins maketh the wine: pithy, taut and juicy. Gorgeous aromas of mottled red plum, five-spice, white pepper, clove, cardamon and kirsch, expanding across the finish. Grenache the clear leader of the pack. For the better. Thrilling length. I'd drink this with youth on its side. 95 Points, NG
The Wine Front 95 Points
Grenache (51%) from Blewitt Springs and Clarendon meets Shiraz (49%) from Ebenezer and Eden Valley. Raised in concrete and large format French oak. All the berries, exotic spice, dried mint and sage, musk and roses. Just over medium-bodied, love the feel of the suede-like tannin, ripe berries, dried beef and grilled mushroom, spicy, perfumed and long to close. Classic feel to this, and I’d say it will age pretty nicely too. 95 Points
Robert Parkers The Wine Advocate 93 Points
blend of 51% McLaren Vale Grenache (from Blewitt Springs and Clarendon) and 49% Barossa Shiraz (from growers Hoffmann, Kelleske and Mattschoss), the 2018 Distant Light Grenache Shiraz displays more obvious oak than the other Thistledown wines, despite being aged in a mix of larger-format barrels and concrete vessels. The notes of cedar and vanilla are balanced by concentrated cherry-berry fruit, with delicate herbal nuances (mint, bay leaf) adding welcome grace notes. It's medium to full-bodied and silky on the palate, polished, refined and elegant, with a long, harmonious finish.’ 93 Points
Huon Hooke 95 Points
This is powerful, concentrated and dark, a more structured wine than Thistledown's usual style with favours ranging from smoked meat to dark chocolate, backed by firm, drying tannins. A solid age-worthy red. 95 points, HH, May 2022.
6 x 75cl
Award: The Wine Front 94 Points
Award: Robert Parkers The Wine Advocate 97+ Points
Award: James Halliday 93 Points