(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.
(2019) A fair example of the new approach to Australian Chardonnay this, from Coonawarra, yet 12.5% abv suggests early picking (though it is possible some alcohol reducing technology was used too - who know?). The nose is about citrus and rosy red apple, a little touch creamy richness, but fairly brisk and straightforward. In the mouth there is a dollop of sweetness: it's a dry wine because of the acid balance, but there's no missing the hit of residual sugar. Fruit verges on the tropical but always stays lemony and firm.
(2019) There's decent varietal and regional expression here too in a wine costing less than six pounds, a juicy and buoyant cherry and plum nose, a touch of pepper and spice, and good, strong aromatics. In the mouth that sweet, ripe, mouth-filling fruit dominates, the soft-ish tannins and acid giving good balance. Good value this.
(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.
(2018) An Australian take on Rioja/Priorat perhaps, made from Tempranillo, Grenache and Mourvèdre, and coming from the Clare Valley. There's a dark, creamy berry and even darker liquorice note on the nose, a suggestion of real supple depth of fruit, nicely integrated oak, and succulence. A big and upfront wine, it brims with sweet but spicy and dark fruits, the sheen of velvety oak adding yet more spice and structure with its plush, fine tannins and plenty of cherry-fresh acid to balance the richness.
(2018) From the Fleurieu Peninsula of McLaren Vale, very close to the ocean and city of Adelaide, this is a very good example of the new Australian Chardonnay: no sign here of that heavy vanilla oak or blockbuster ripeness: with 12.5% alcohol this is rich, rounded and crammed with sweet fruit that takes centre stage. There is a touch of that flinty character that makes Chablis so appealing, but then the juicy, sweet orange and peach fruit.
(2018) Quite a different vintage from the 2015 this, with more pronounced herbal, peppery and raspberry notes joining the black fruit, a little balsamic and lifted character, all very attractive in a firmer way. In the mouth the wine has the same sense of opulence and plushness, a dark, glossy pool of black fruits inviting you to dive right in, but there's a little more of an edge too, firm, liquoricy, mocha-deep, but giving a certain tangy presence. This is a slightly more savoury, structured interpretation, and again, a very successful one. This will improve further with mid-term cellaring, whilst the 2015 is irresistible now.