Thistledown Fool on the Hill Grenache 2022
96 pts Robert Parker Wine Advocate
93 pts Halliday Wine Companion
93 pts James Suckling
As one of the “outsiders” we’ve always been drawn to people with a similarly maverick streak – those willing to do things the hard way. But the path to success is rarely an even, linear one. Doubters, cynics and dilettantes line the path and it takes an iron will to continue on. When the destination is not yet known, or even in sight, one’s sanity may even be questioned. This only seeks to galvanise and to spur one forward.
The Fool on the Hill is sourced from two tiny plots of essentially dry grown bush-vine Grenache, planted by Joel Mattschoss, high in the Eden Valley on soils that require a vine to struggle. It’s a spectacular plot with an unusually bright future, though the impenetrable soils, lack of adequate water and exposure would have led all but the bravest to question the sense of the project.
One of the highest Grenache vineyards in South Australia at 550m, the meagre soils are strewn with pink quartz and ironstone. 3 clonal selections of Grenache have been planted in bushvine form with only a little water to establish them. Still young by our standards, these small vines yield fruit with high intensity.
The fruit was hand-picked early in the morning of 27th March before swift transport to the winery where we retained 20% whole bunches. A gentle ferment in concrete egg was followed by pressing to 500 litre 2nd and 3rd year French oak.
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. The wines are characterised by balanced, aromatic fruit profiles, lovely energy and silky tannins which give a capacity for both youthful exuberance and ageing.