(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 recently launched 'Max's' range from Penfolds is of course an homage to Max Schubert, the first Chief Winemaker for Penfolds, and the man who created Grange. As is usual with so many of Penfold's premium wines, fruit is sourced widely across South Australia, and the wine is aged 24 months in older American and French oak barrels, with about 10% in new French oak. It's made to be accessible early, but it is still a wine with a bit of grip and structure, the plush blackcurrant and blueberry aromas framed by sandalwood and vanilla, before a mouth-filling palate of sweet fruit but with a bittersweet twist of liquorice acidity and tight, grippy tannins as well as a touch of alcoholic heat. A few years in the cellar will do this no harm.
(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.
(2017) 40% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 27% Mourvedre. A dry, lightly leathery and gravelly character with small redcurrant and black fruit dryness. The palate has a fine, racy profile, spices and crunchy acid against quite sweet, but agile and savoury fruit. Drinks easily but well.
(2017) Much bigger, creamier and more chocolaty than the GSM, with coffee and spice richness and forward character. Deliciously creamy, certainly adding texture and creamy oak richness. Lovely, straightforward but delicious.