Its funny how wines can taste when purchased from different bottleshops. It all comes down to how it’s been treated in transport. Factors like whether the pallet sat in the sun whilst it was being unloaded, even whether the pallet was in the middle of the shipping container or against the edge with the sun beaming on it whilst it was being transported up here, all have a bearing on how the wine will taste.
We recently sat down to look at the new 2015 vintage from St.Hugo Shiraz, samples that were sent from Sydney (bottle number 81448) and compared them with samples purchased from a local Woolworth’s mega-chain (bottle number 62904). The locally purchased bottle was heat affected, it had sat in the heat for some time and wasn’t great, it showed as thin and bitter, moving to stale and fruitless as it aired. Whilst the supplied sample bottle was bright and lively, supple and alive with spices and dark fruits.
It’s not the first time I’ve had this happen through one of the mega chains. I would hazard a guess it has something to do with their distribution network and the unloading when it hits the bottleshops. I should also note that the previous times it has happened, whether it has been off beer or wine, the bottleshop has taken back the three quarter full bottle or five of the six beers back, and replaced it with no problems, I just didn’t go down that path this time.
Where I’m heading here is that St.Hugo has a very solid reputation behind their wines, I’ve got some great vintages hidden away in my cellar, as do all of my wine-toff mates. Don’t judge the range by one bottle which may have been mistreated.
The St.Hugo label has a great pedigree, it’s been around since 1978 when the team at Orlando Wines (now Pernod Ricard) created a Cabernet Sauvignon by blending fruit from Padthaway, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and the Barossa. It was aged on new French oak, and they went on to win the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1979.
Such was the success of the wine the team decided to make this a regular in their line up, and in 1980 the famous St.Hugo label was created from superb parcels of Coonawarra fruit. The wine was released in 1983, and named after Hugo Gramp, who, along with other leaders of the wine industry, died in the Kyeema air crash of 1938. It has since gone on to earn over 1000 awards, including 29 trophies and 173 gold medals, wowing wine lovers, judges and critics along the way. That success has driven demand, and that demand has given rise to the St.Hugo Shiraz, the St.Hugo Cabernet Shiraz and the St.Hugo GSM.
So if you grab a bottle of wine, take a sip, and it doesn’t taste right, put the cork or cap back on the wine and stick the bottle in the refrigerator to preserve the wine as much as possible. Then bring the bottle back to the store where it was purchased and tell them about the noticeable flaw or defect in the wine. And be sensible, there is no way that anyone will believe that you thought the wine was off when you had half of it.
A Couple of Cracking St. Hugo’s to grab:
St. Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 – oak isn’t as dominate as it was with the prior year’s vintage, its letting the deep dark berry fruits show through. Finely balanced, violets, cedar with a whisper of menthol. It’s well structured, layers of depth and finishes long, quite intense and lingering. Will hold well for at least the next ten years. RRP $57.99 but about $35-39 in store.
St. Hugo Barossa Shiraz 2015 – using fruit off low-yielding, mature age vines has given the wine a concentrated and dense feel. It’s a big mouthful of juicy dark plum and blackberry fruit, with just enough woody spices to keep it balanced. Solid tannin structure and a long lingering finish, with a kick of dark chocolate in the end. Will age in the cellar well for the next decade or so, but hard to beat with beef ribs right now. RRP $57.99 but about $35-39 in store.
St. Hugo Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2015 – GSM blends are underrated, but its blends like this that will reverse that opinion. Loaded with juicy bright red and dark fruits, think dark raspberry and blackberry, with some aniseed notes, ably supported by white pepper. The tannins give it a slippery and silky feel along the tongue. Try and stop yourself reaching for another glass. About $35-38 in store.