(2019) A Coonawarra Cabernet, so an absolutely classic combination of site and variety for South Australia, this is arguably the star of the selection tasted here, from its intense youthful colour to its expressive aromatic lift of green pepper, blackcurrant and spice. On the palate it has a rich black fruit character, lots of cassis-like sweet brightness, a rasp of plummy acidity and some smooth tannins gives a bit of tension, and whilst there's evidence of a slightly dilute character, the fruit giving way to lip-tingly spice in the finish, it is very good at the price and authentic.
(2018) A robust and chunky Shiraz from the vineyards of Willunga winery in McLaren Vale, just outside Adelaide. A proportion was aged in French oak and that gives a nice touch of cedar and smokiness on the nose, but it's more about bold, confident black fruit and a wisp of freshly-cracked pepper. In the mouth there's a big, rumbling layer of tannin on which sits some of that pleasing oak-toast quality and good fruit, sweet and ripe but with a savoury edge. It's the sort of straightforward, big-hearted red that makes a good burger or barbecue go down rather nicely.
(2018) Sourced from the Limestone Coast of South Australia, the back label peels off to reveal a recipe for an Aussie beef barbecue which is a neat touch. In the bottle, a fairly deeply-coloured crimson wine with nicely buoyant aromas of white pepper and cherry, and a gamy and earthy background which is pleasing. On the palate it is a very juicy style, the 14.5% alcohol adding a touch of heat to the finish, but the peppery and spicy black fruit pushing through to the finish, which is roughened nicely by a plum-skin rasp of tannin.
(2018) From the Thistledown Wines team, a Grenache (well, with around 10% Mourvèdre) that marches to a different beat from it beer-bottle style 50cl container to its crown cap. Inside is a heart-warming an gluggable red, perfumed with violet, raspberry and blackcurrant, and filling the mouth with sweet and easy-going fruit. The perfect barbecue companion. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) If you catch up with winemaker Giles Cook at my Glasgow or Edinburgh Festivals of Wine where Thistledown are pouring their wines, he might well be sporting his 'Gorgeous Grenache' tee-shirt. A zealous advocate for the quality of old vine Grenache in Australia, Giles has sourced old vine fruit from across South Australia for this entry-level bottling. It's a truly lovely wine, brimming with ripe black fruit, spices and a chocolate depth, soft tannins and a hint of gingery heat, finishing with pert cherry acidity. That all adds up to an easy-drinking but deep and soulful red, heaven sent for summer barbecues. Even better, buy two six-packs from M&S at time of review and the price falls to a bargaintastic £7.50 per bottle. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) The Cabernet component comes from vines planted in 1958 according to the back label, in a powerful red with lots of spice, pepper and bold black fruit, a hint of menthol and balsam too. In the mouth the fruit is sweet and rich, quite bright and not overripe or Porty, the tannins slightly rustic slightly and, like the Chardonnay, fairly abrupt acidity that for me is just not quite smoothly integrated.
(2017) GSM - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre - is a classic blend not only of the Rhône Valley, but of McLaren Vale in South Australia. There's a lovely ripeness and roundness of black fruit on the nose - not jammy, but full and juicy, with a hint of pepper and spice. In the mouth the dry, fresh, slightly ashy character is offset beautifully by blackcurrant pastille fruit. A nice weight of spicy tannin and freshening acidity sets the whole, easy drinking barbecue-friendly style very nicely.
(2017) Alongside Grenache, Mataro - aka Mourvèdre - is now stealing a little bit of the limelight from Syrah in McLaren Vale. This has quite a similar nose to the GSM blend, a little bit of raspberry/strawberry lift to the fruit. In the mouth the spice and savoury richness of the fruit is good, a bit of chewy tannin and plum skin character, the sweetness of the fruit again nicely balanced by the acidity.
(2016) Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro (aka Mourvèdre) is the blend in a wine that's more earthy, spicy and plummy than the Shiraz from New South Wales, with a nicely savoury but fruity palate that retains juiciness and balance thanks to the ripe tannins and good acidity. This wine has moved on to the 2014 vintage at time of writing.
(2012) >From dry farmed and seriously elderly bush vines (80 to 100 years old), this 14.5% ABV red was aged only in older oak barrels in order not to overwhelm the aromatics. The nose does have a very appealing, lifted and light nose of cherry, kirsch and wild, herb-strewn hillsides - very Roussillon in many way. On the palate it is medium-bodied but has great concentration. The fat black fruit fills the mid-palate, but there's a twist of liquorice and a firm, charcoally bite too with powerful spice to the tannins and a crunch to the acidity that leaves it big and slightly hot in the finish, but full of personality.
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