Giles Cooke, who splits his time between his home in Edinburgh and Adelaide, where the winery is based, was delighted when Thistledown Wine – which specialises in old Vine Grenache grapes, the variety that is at the heart of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rioja and Cotes du Rhône – had the two top scoring Grenaches and won three trophies at the McLaren Vale Wine Show.
A delighted Giles said: “When Thistledown was first established, less than 10 years ago, Australian Grenache was not in a good way.
“Many growers that we talked to were still contemplating pulling their vines and so we set about producing wines that people want to drink – wines that would help restore the fortunes of this wonderful variety.
“I’ve always believed that McLaren Vale, and Blewitt Springs in particular, was capable of producing world class Grenache and so it is with great pride that we accept these trophies for a thoroughly modern Grenache that wouldn’t have been possible but for the wonderful growers who kept the faith during the hardest of times.
“To have been judged the best Grenache in what we regard as the best region in Australia for Grenache is a particular honour. Grenache is now in good shape and we’re delighted to have been part of that renaissance.”
The Scottish winemaker started the firm with fellow master of wine Fergal Tynan – who is also based in Edinburgh – in 2010, after working his way through the ranks at Scottish-based importers Alliance Wine.
Giles said: “I spend four months in Australia running the business and doing all the winemaking, We are helping to support growers so that their old vines are kept in the ground for a further century. We do this by making our wines in a more artisan style, creating wine more complementary to food than in the past.”
Giles buys fruit from around 25 growers for their Adelaide Hills winery and often travels more than 7000km at harvest time, spending time with the growers before deciding when to pick and from which sections of their vineyard.