Head Wines wins the James Halliday Grenache Challenge

By Amelia Ball

6 Nov, 2020

An old-vine grenache from the Barossa Valley has taken out the title in this year’s competition. 

The Barossa Valley’s Head Wines has won the 2020 James Halliday Grenache Challenge with its 2019 Old Vines Grenache ($35). “The winning wine was a superb example of regionality and complexity, with earthy savouriness coupled with beautifully bright fruit and structure,” co-chair Paul Carpenter says. 

Alex Head of Head Wines – named one of the 10 Best Value Wineries in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion – has been championing Barossan grenache for more than 10 years. He says it’s validating to win the title and also see grenache now being so widely embraced and celebrated. “We have long held a desire to promote Australian grenache, mainly due to the variety’s sustainable viticultural elements with regard to our fragile environment,” Alex says. He also believes the Barossa Valley still has huge potential for grenache due to a wealth of excellent vineyards in the region. “It comes down to vine age and also having a lighter touch in the winery,” he says.   

The fourth annual competition celebrating straight grenache wines drew more than 130 entries from around Australia, with the judges impressed with the overarching quality. Paxton Wines, Heirloom Vineyards and Chalk Hill were among the other top producers. “If the 2020 Challenge is anything to go by, the future is bright for Australian grenache,” Paul says. 

The challenge was judged as part of the McLaren Vale Wine Show, which was announced last week. As part of the awards, which is one of a handful of shows able to proceed this year due to the pandemic, the coveted Bushing Monarch title is presented to the producers of the highest-scoring wine – this year going to Chalk Hill for its 2019 Alpha Crucis Old Vine Grenache ($55). 

Shingleback and Bondar Wines were named Most Successful Exhibitor and Best Small Producer respectively, and Serafino, Hedonist Wines, Shottesbooke and Mitolo were among the other big winners at the show. 

For full results of both competitions, visit James Halliday Grenache Challenge and McLaren Vale Wine Show

Image: Alex Head walking through the vines in the Barossa Valley.