Thistledown, The Distant Light Shiraz- Grenache, Mclaren Vale & Barossa, Australia, 2020
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
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 flavours while the dry conditions led to low disease pressures.An intoxicating, ethereal nose of sweet, spicy black cherry, cassis and balsam. The palate unravels its silky, textural beauty over the palate. Draped with wild strawberry, north African spice, autumnal wood smoke and hints of smoky, grilled meats, it displays an elegant persistence.
Turkey, rich tomato based pasta sauce, and maybe even a slow braised lamb ragu.
Huon Hooke 96 Points
Good depth of colour and hue, there are some char-oak aromas but the bouquet while clean and fresh is a bit shy. The palate has ironstone and graphite as well as char-oak over rich plummy fruit and pleasingly supple tannins giving it an agreeably soft texture. It's young and straightforward now and would reward cellaring. Concentrated and velvet-smooth, with a tremendously long aftertaste. Great potential. 96 Points, HH, Feb 2022.
James Suckling 93 Points
Barossa shiraz (Ebenezer and Mengler Hill) with Blewitt Springs grenache. Frankly, it would be finer without the Barossa intrusion. However, this is a stylistic choice that many will enjoy, marked by more obvious oak than Thistledown's other top wines. Full-bodied, with iodine, camphor and plentiful dark fruit allusions. Densely packed, with a sluice of menthol, anise and toasty oak to curb an intense finish that remains admirably fresh. 93 Points, NG (MW).
6 x 75cl
Award: James Suckling 93 Points
Award: The Wine Front 94 Points
Award: James Halliday 90 Points
Award: James Halliday 94 Points
Award: Robert Parkers The Wine Advocate 97+ Points
Award: The Wine Front 96 Points
Award: James Halliday Wine Companion 95 Points
Award: The Wine Front 92 Points