The Thistledown philosophy is that low yields and considered fruit selection makes for world class Grenache, and their The Vagabond Grenache makes this point with aplomb. So named for the team’s travels throughout Spain and the Rhône, this wine—made in the Blewitt Springs region of McLaren Vale—is medium bodied, gorgeously aromatic, and textural.
Fruit for this wine comes from three dry bush trained vineyards, planted in deep sand with elements of ironstone. It is hand picked, with 68% wild fermented in a concrete pyramid with layers of whole bunch and crushed fruit. This is then pressed to concrete and oak puncheons for maturation. The remaining fruit is wild fermented in an open fermenter with 35% whole bunches and hand plunged twice a day. This portion is matured in puncheons.
Complex and aromatic, The Vagabond is redolent with tones of violet and raspberry. On the palate, expect red berry freshness, stewed plum, and a touch of mint, with the subtle savouriness of cured meats.
I adore this estate's obsession with grenache, quite possibly SA's saviour alongside a swag of Italian indigenes and mataro, especially in lieu of the warming planet, the variety's torrid Mediterranean mettle and the lack of natural structure in shiraz. A delicious full-bodied wine that seems, despite it all, barely mid-weighted. This is due to the maritime salinity, pointed acidity and fishbone tannins, etching the flow of fruit with a detailed edge that confers savouriness and a sense of freshness while corralling persimmon, pomegranate, fecund strawberry and cranberry scents. This is looser knit than the other top cuvees, but no less delicious.
95 points, Wine Companion (March 2020)
Creamy raspberry, rosy perfume and spice, maybe a bit of shoe leather and dried herb. It’s silky, fresh, fine grip of tannin, mint and red fruits, but savoury in the background, with a coolness and vitality that makes it so charming, and good to drink. Some red fruit and sap to close. Yes.
94 points, The Wine Front (May 2020)
Vibrant crimson-purple colour centre to rim. A very euro bouquet of cured meats, red licorice and stewed plums. Acidity speaks more of cooler climes - red cherries and raspberries. Oak and tannin are measured. Blue and red fruits carry the palate. Classy.
94 points, The Real Review (January 2020)
This showcases the power of Blewitt Springs in a very boldly stated, fruit-driven expression of grenache with real purpose. The aromas are of redcurrants, raspberries, pomegranate and blood oranges and lead to a palate with a phenomenal drive of acidity and tannin. Such intense and defined style here.
96 points, JamesSuckling.com (May 2020)