Taste the Good Life – Virtual Wine Tasting with St. Hugo

We here at Man of Many work tirelessly to bring you the latest in gear, street style, dining and entertainment, and while that hasn’t turned us into millionaires just yet there are definitely some notable perks of the job. Most recently one of those perks was a “virtual” wine tasting with premier Australian label St. Hugo. And don’t let the word “virtual” throw you off–the wine was quite real and quite delicious.

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As our knees buckled with every sip, our gracious host Daniel Swincer, St. Hugo’s Chief Winemaker, guided us via video link, explaining not just the process behind each blend but also the history of St. Hugo. He even gave us a (virtual) tour of their stunning new property in Barossa Valley.

Named after legendary Hugo Gramp (managing director of winemaker G. Gramp & Sons in the 20s and 30s), St. Hugo has enjoyed meteoric success in relatively little time thanks to an arsenal of stellar, award-winning varietals. September marked the official opening of the ‘Home of St. Hugo’, a newly refurbished winery in the heart of Barossa Valley that’s nothing short of an epicurean paradise. Along with the new digs comes some of the best wine on the continent, remarkable stone architecture dating back centuries, stunning views and a phenomenal restaurant offering four and eight course degustation menus with wine pairings.

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Available to those who love the best things in life are an array of “package deals” from St. Hugo. The most exclusive package is dubbed the St. Hugo ‘Sainthood’ and it involves luxury accommodations in the Barossa and Adelaide Valleys, a guided tour of the new building in Barossa, and a chartered plane flight to the St. Hugo vineyard. Topping it all off is the custom blending of a bespoke wine created solely in your honour, which will be matured for three years and then delivered right to your door. Now that’s luxury you can taste.

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While there were no chartered planes or bespoke blends, we did get a small taste of luxury ourselves and needless to say every sip was the stuff of legend. Among the wines that we tried was the brand’s benchmark offering: the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose was a robust profile of blackberries, charred oak and layered spice. The taste was beyond smooth and balanced, rife with dark fruit, deep oak and silky texture. Never before had we tried something so simultaneously powerful and palatable.

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Also igniting our senses was the 2010 Shiraz. Hailing from a single vineyard, the award-winning Shiraz is a masterpiece of texture and depth and worth every cent of its hefty price tag. On the nose were clove, plum, spice and hints of vanilla and roasted meat. Unfolding like some great novel in our mouths was a taste that opened subtly, only to soon reveal layer after layer of plum, spice, clove, touches of smoke and then deeper, sweeter elements like chocolate and vanilla.

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While we sipped and relished, our good host Dan explained that the most important aspect of producing such tremendous wine is the selection process. Every vineyard supplying the brand with their grapes is diligently monitored and only the best parcels are chosen for the St. Hugo blends. That means that only the grapes with the potential to yield the richest colour and deepest tannin structure are selected before being de-stemmed and crushed on-site.

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And that’s just the beginning. Things like colour, flavour and tannin are extracted by allowing the juice to percolate through the skin. After being pressed and returned multiple times, St. Hugo completely drains the wine from the skin. The skin is then pressed and some of those fragments are delivered back to the free-run.

After malolactic fermentation and 22 months of maturation in 55% new French oak and 7% new American oak hogsheads, the wine is tasted by the St. Hugo’s pros. Only the parcels exhibiting the most exceptional flavour and distinctive taste are selected for the final blend, which is matured another 14 months prior to release. That’s some serious vetting right there, and what ends up on the shelf is an unmistakably excellent wine that’s won a slew of awards and garnered heaps of praise among connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.

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We might not be millionaires yet, but we’ll be damned if every now and then we don’t dip our toes in some premium waters and dip our tongues in some premium wines. Thank you, St. Hugo, for a tasting we’ll never forget. Rest assured we’ll be scoping out those package deals as soon as our first million rolls in!

St. Hugo