Thistledown The Cunning Plan Shiraz 2022
Despite having two MW’s on the team plus a highly regarded Australian winemaker, their early steps into selecting vineyards, buying grapes, choosing oak, deciding how to make the wine all felt like they were chancing their arm a little. They had to learn fast but perhaps the first lesson they learned was that however experienced, however serene they looked on the outside, all winemakers face a different set of problems every harvest and all winemakers need a Cunning Plan. Many years on, this wine reminds us that however much we have learned, there is always more to learn. Unashamedly Australian, this contemporary McLaren Vale Shiraz draws on incredible fruit grown at low yields (2.5t per acre) coupled with the Thistledown approach of picking on the way up rather than the way down. This results in fruit arriving in the winery in great condition, full of flavor and energy.
Great depth of ripe plum and black-berry fruit flavours. A full-bodied wine with a succulent palate, lively spices and fine velvety tannins.
92pts James Suckling (Ned Goodwin MW) “A powerful, typically regional shiraz, exuding baking spice, clove, bing cherry and five-spice. Soft and plush, with the caveat of some tangy acidity marking the forceful back end.”
91pts The Real Review (Huon Hooke)
The beautiful region of McLaren Vale is bounded by the Gulf to the West and the various ranges to the East and North. Geologically one of the most diverse regions on earth, it has long been the home to some of Australia’s finest expressions of Shiraz. The fruit for this wine comes from the Moray Park vineyard in the McLaren Flat subregion. Low yielding and ultra-intense, they handle the fruit really gently to capture the delicious berry fruit character. Winemaking is simple and old school with The Cunning Plan. Take perfectly balanced fruit, picked by hand, gently crush to preserve whole berries and allow to cold soak for 4 days, prior to a wild fermentation. Following the ferment, pressed off to 300 liter French hogsheads, of which 15% are new, where the wine ages for 10 months, prior to being bottling unfined and unfiltered. French oak adds spicy complexity but never dominates. The texture is lush, yet lithe and beautifully balanced.
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.