The third annual James Halliday Grenache Challenge (JHGC) gathered varietal Grenache wines from around Australia for a competitive tasting to celebrate and elevate the variety.
The Challenge invited producers from all Australian wine regions to participate, encouraging an honest gauge of Australia’s winemaking form and to catch the styles and movements developing across the landscape.
In exciting news for McLaren Vale, Thistledown Wines 2018 Sands of Time Single Vineyard Grenache took out the challenge title with top gold at 97 points.
2019 James Halliday Grenache Challenge Panel Judges included Julian Langworthy - Deep Woods, Andrew Thomas - Thomas Wines and Sarah Ahmed - The Wine Detective.
2019 McLaren Vale Wine Show Chair Liam Van Pelt was pleased to note the discussion around diversity of wine style.
"This year's JHGC showed the diversity and evolution of Grenache in Australia. With 11 gold medals awarded, there was a lot of discussion between judges around style. Lighter, perfumed wines and richer, more textural wines were equally represented in the top tier," said Mr Van Pelt.
"Overall, judges were impressed with quality of Australian Grenache with the top wine exhibiting Grenache perfume and red fruits, layered with balanced acidity and wonderful tannin structure."
Thistledown winemaker, Giles Cooke MW credits the relationships built with McLaren Vale growers during the last decade in highlighting the varieties true potential.
"When Thistledown was first established, less than 10 years ago, many of the growers that we talked to were still contemplating pulling their vines and so we set about producing wines that people wanted to drink – wines that would help restore the fortunes of this wonderful variety," said Mr Cooke.
"We’ve spent the last few years unpicking the rich tapestry that is McLaren Vale Grenache, evaluating which elements are most consistent with the vivid, energetic style of Grenache that we wanted to produce, before sewing it all back together in such a way that we stay faithful to both site and variety."
James Halliday commends McLaren Vale's commitment to championing premium Grenache.
“Grenache is McLaren Vale’s secret weapon – not merely Australia’s best, but every bit as good as that of the Rhone Valley,” said Mr Halliday.
“The best examples manage to combine density of aroma, colour, flavour and alcohol without threatening to engulf you, and they are most convincing with commensurately rich food."
Please click here to view the 2019 JHGC results.