First Drop Nacional is quite a drink! It is rich and obvious but there is a lot of flavour underneath the bravado. Damson plums, cherries, violets, smoke, woody, cola. It sits just on the verge of jamminess. The palate walks the line of thick vs silk. It has a pronounced drying finish with a fairy floss lift. Pomegranate, a hint of schist, soft tannins. In other words, First Drop Nacional is delicious. And despite the big, bold flavours, it is only 13% alcohol. It is delicious right now, it gets better with air, so a decant would not go astray. Nacional is known to improve with age, so you can put some away for the long haul.
In 2004 First Drop came into being. Two friends, Matt ‘Gantos’ Gant and John ‘JR’ Retsas, make wines to drink, rather than pontificate upon. Their base is the ‘Home of the Brave’ in the Barossa. The style here is silky, textural, drinkable wines with a hint of funk and a lot of interest. They source fruit vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Barossa and offer a diversity of styles.
The maritime climate and sandy soils of McLaren Vale make it a great place for growing grapes. Reds in particular excel here. Shiraz of course, but the Spanish varieties Grenache and Tempranillo seem well suited too. The maritime climate helps mitigate some of the heat from the SA summers and the sandy soils mean that phylloxera could not survive and so they have some of the oldest vines in the world.
Touriga Nacional is the most desirable for quality Port and table wine but proves difficult to grow and offers small yields. That means the easier to grow Touriga Franca is favoured for less expensive wines and can be seen as the Cabernet Franc compared to Nacionals Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines of T. Nacional are thick, dense, intensely coloured and full of flavour.