Crafted from 3 separate, old, dry grown, bush trained vineyards in McLaren Vale’s Blewitt Springs, the 2018 Thistledown The Vagabond Grenache (96 Points – Decanter; 96 Points – James Suckling; 95 Points – James Halliday) is highly aromatic, superbly textured, and remarkably complex. Infused with tantalizing scents of wild cherry, woodland violets, and Herbes de Provence, the 2018 Thistledown The Vagabond Grenache immediately captivates the nose, causing one tasting panel member to comment “this wine’s aroma alone is worth the price of admission.” Quite true, though the wine’s palate-pleasing flavors are equally seductive, offering smooth vibrant cherry, wild strawberry, fennel, and baking spice flavors. Medium-bodied but boldly flavored, the 2018 Thistledown The Vagabond Grenache makes a strong case for it being dubbed “Australia’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” This is truly an exceptional wine in all respects. Afford this pure, meticulously crafted Grenache at least 15-20 minutes of aeration before imbibing at 58°-62° F and ultimately delighting in all that the 2018 Vagabond has to offer. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2027. Enjoy!
The 2018 Thistledown The Vagabond Blewitt Springs McLaren Vale Grenache is as versatile as it is prodigious, making it a match for both simple fare and the gustatory delights of a gourmet kitchen. An artfully prepared dish of Beef Short Ribs served with truffle fries makes a case for itself as the ideal companion, but an Herbes de Provence-Grilled Chicken Breast with rosemary fries provides an equally compelling companion. Grilled Lamb Chops rubbed with garlic, olive oil, and Mediterranean herbs makes another fine accompaniment as does a simple Three-Meat Meatloaf. Almost any heady ratatouille, hearty bean, or lentil dish will also provide a tasty pairing in the company of a bottle of Thistledown’s gorgeous 2018 The Vagabond Grenache. Bon Appétit!
What’s in a name? Plenty when it comes to Thistledown and their incredible portfolio of gorgeous Grenache wines. Thistledown specializes in old vine Grenache, but not just any Grenache. In the case of Thistledown’s 2018 The Vagabond Blewitt Springs Grenache (this month’s feature), think Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the very best Australia has to offer.
Two Masters of Wine, Giles Cooke and Fergal Tynan, are the driving force behind Thistledown and their winery’s elite portfolio of wines. With the help of renowned winemaker Peter Leske, they launched Thistledown in 2010. They hand-make small batches of wines from old vines that illustrate the unique benefits of great sites and intelligent winemaking. Specializing in fashioning tiny lots of wine from prized vineyards has earned Thistledown tremendous critical acclaim and high 90+ point ratings from Wine Advocate, Decanter, James Halliday, James Suckling, and others. Although old vine Grenache has garnered the most attention, including the winery’s The Vagabond Blewitt Springs Grenache, Thistledown is equally adept at fashioning incredible Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah.
Thistledown’s approach to Grenache makes it quite unique in Australia. Although Grenache is Australia’s most widely planted red variety and it figures significantly in Australia’s signature wine GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre), Grenache is less often bottled as a single varietal and it often takes second fiddle to Shiraz/Syrah throughout Australia. Thistledown’s use of severely pruned old vines, wild yeasts, extended whole bunch fermentation, aging in larger oak barrels, and no fining or filtration render the winery’s superb Grenache wines some of the finest in the land. They are vegetarian and vegan friendly, and downright delicious.
Grenache, whose origin is thought to be Aragon in northern Spain, is the most widely cultivated red varietal throughout the world. The wine’s propensity for vigor, drought resistance, high alcohol, and inherent ability to yield powerful, spicy, complex wines has made it a favorite in warm climates the world over. When judiciously pruned, it yields wines of extraordinary quality, especially in Spain’s Priorat, where it is known as Garnacha, and in neighboring France, including the Languedoc and the Rhône Valley where it shines in all the greatest wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and nearby Côtes de Rhône villages. It is also the most cultivated red grape in Australia where the country’s very old bush vines, many in excess of 100 years of age, furnish some of South Australia’s finest reds. This is especially true for Grenache grown in South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Grenache also forms the basis for Australia’s signature GSM blend, perhaps the world’s most recognizable blend. California also enjoys a long history with Grenache where it plays an increasingly supporting role in the state’s finest Syrah based wines.
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