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 remarkable site that has vines of 100 years old. The entire site, planted high in the picturesque Clarendon sub-region, is dry grown bush vines and has been farmed by the same family for 3 generations. This wine is sourced from one particular block where the canopy is raised slightly higher above the ground, allowing for better air circulation and increased radiated sunlight.
Hand picked fruit was transported to the winery where 20% was retained as whole bunches to be placed on the base of a 2 ton open fermenter. Wild fermented and gently hand plunged twice a day during active fermentation. Pressed off to 300 litre hogsheads, of which 25% were new.
Time: 12 months
Type: French 300 Litre Hogshead
% wine oaked: 66
% new oak: 25
2022 vintage followed in much the same vein as the much-lauded 2021. A little later than normal but the season was characterised by regular moderate rainfall, friendly temperatures and an elongated ripening period which allowed for an even spread of fruit over the harvesting period. This vintage displays muscular yet elegant silky black fruits couple with deep, rich, warming spices, hints of violet, mineral and black cherry.
The Wine Front 95+ Points
Clarendon. Some vines up to 100 years of age. Black and red fruits, baking spice, floral too, with some thyme and cocoa. It’s lively, quite stony in feel, a lovely crunch and freshness to acidity, quite concentrated but still light on its feet. The finish pulls more to spiced strawberry and raspberry, with flowering herb perfume on a very long finish. Delightful. 95+ Points, GW, 2023.
James Suckling 97 Points
The qualitative apogee when it comes to grenache, rivalled by few and equalled only by Yangarra. Even better than the superb 2021. Sourced from the highest, coolest site in the Vale, the venerable Smart vineyard. Ironstone imparts a ferrous bite to pithy sour cherry, cranberry, campfire, pomegranate, tamarind and sandalwood notes with a grind of white pepper across a lattice of pin bone tannins, curtailing sweetness while promoting stunning length. This is excellent. Superb! Transparent and brimming with a sense of pinoté, like a mini Rayas. A great wine of the present as much as the future. Among Australia's very greatest reds. I don't score above 97, but this could be worth a point higher. 97 Points, NG(MW), August 2023.
Robert Parkers Wine Advocate 96 Points
The 2022 The Charming Man Single Vineyard Grenache hails from a single vineyard in Clarendon, named after Bernard Smart. I haven't met a producer in McLaren Vale yet that doesn't light up at the mention of this man and his vineyard. So, to the wine. It offers blood orange, rosemary, a hint of sage, fresh blood, layers of raspberry pip, a hint of star anise and loads of ground exotic five spice. This is supple and flowing in the mouth, with the 20% whole-bunch inclusion a suggestion of complexity and not an overwhelming quality. All of the components are in balance and harmony: it has no more fruit than tannin, no more flavor than freshness, no more complexity than vivacity. This is sensational and comes from an excellent vintage to boot. 14% alcohol, sealed under screw cap. 96 Points, EL, September 2023.
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