Top McLaren Vale Grenache from Thistledown


McLaren Vale Grenache is a success story at the moment. Many people have discovered that if you make the wines in a lower-extraction, less ripe, more elegant style, this variety really begins to shine. Grenache grapes are now the most expensive in the region: in 2021, good Grenache was going for A$4000 a ton; five years ago it was selling for A$1500. There’s some great information on McLaren Vale Grenache and its grand cru sites here:

Thistledown is a Grenache-focused label, and it’s from Giles Cooke and Fergal Tynan of Alliance Wine. To make the last vintage, 2021, Giles had to do 10 days quarantine in a hotel room in Australia before heading to the winery. The wines are made at Revenir in the Adelaide Hills, with the assistance of Peter Leske. This is the old Nepenthe winery. I tasted through these wines with Giles in London, at the latest Alliance wine tasting, and was impressed.

Giles Cooke, Thistledown

Thistledown Thorny Devil Grenache 2020 McLaren Vale, Australia
This is from old vines and a mix of different parcels. Textured with lovely sweet fruit and real balance. Fine, pure and layered: ripe and seamless. 93/100

Thistledown ‘She’s Electric’ Old Vine Grenache 2020 McLaren Vale, South Australia
This is from a single 75 year old vineyard, and 50% of the grapes were fermented whole bunch with gentle hand plungin. Sweet, pure aromatics. On the palate, lovely red fruits with cherries and plums. Sleek and pretty, this is fine-grained and detailed. Lovely purity. 95/100

Thistledown ‘This Charming Man’ Old Vine Grenache 2020 Clarendon, McLaren Vale, Australia
This is from Bernard Smart’s vineyard and siltstone and ironstone in the soil give a ferrous feel to the wines. 25% whole bunch. So supple and fine-grained, but also quite structured. This has lovely purity and detail and a fine-grained savoury edge to the intense berry fruits. 95/100

Thistledown ‘Sands of Time’ 2020 McLaren Vale, Australia
33% whole bunch, with the whole cluster portion and destemmed portion layered, made in concrete pyramids, with no extraction. Perfumed, fine and expressive with nice detail. Light and fine with delicate grainy structure. This is so floral and detailed, it’s really fine. 96/100

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