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McLaren Vale Grenache is the Winner

Announcing the Winners of the 2015 Somm Scavenger Hunt

Wine & Spirits (website)
October 27, 2015

Fifteen sommeliers, five regions, four grape varieties: this year’s W&S Sommelier Scavenger Hunt teams investigated the length and breadth of the Australian continent, from Margaret River’s west coast Chardonnay to the emerging cool-climate Pinot Noir of Tasmania and Yarra Valley and the laser-sharp Semillons of Hunter Valley.

Yet when the votes were cast at the San Francisco Taste-Off, it was McLaren Vale Grenache that garnered the strongest support. Team McLaren—Michael Madrigale of NYC’s Boulud Sud, Michelle Bisceglia of NYC’s Blue Hill and Josiah Baldivino of Bay Grape in Oakland, CA—proved victorious.

In 2014, the same threesome won the inaugural Sommelier Scavenger Hunt Taste-Off by focusing on a stalwart, Napa Valley Cabernet, convincing a panel of wine professional that the region remained a source of Cabernet with an indelible (and delicious) sense of place. This year, they took similar tack by choosing McLaren Vale, focusing on an historic region everyone thought they understood, and using the lens of Grenache to present it as a place of unexpected diversity.

“We were amazed by the story of the McLaren Vale,” Madrigale told the Taste-Off audience gathered at SF’s Bluxome Street Winery. “Of how that region was planted with Grenache in the 1800s to satisfy a fortified wine demand. In the 1980s, a lot of these old Grenache vines were ripped up, because there was no more market for sweet wines. And the ones that lasted—it’s almost Darwinian—there still remain these amazing 100-plus-year-old vines.”