Forget the six million years we’ve been evolving – the real development in human history came when we realised we could order wine online.
Far from the sterile experience you might have in mind, direct-to-consumer wine is arguably the purest way to get your vino – something DMARGE recently discovered on a wine trail trip to South Australia.
On that (fruity) note: a growing trend among Australian wine enthusiasts is to go on reconnaissance trips (some call them holidays) to places like the Barossa Valley, pickle their tongues with grape juice, jot down their favourites, and return with enough cellar door subscriptions to put their annual offerings to Netflix, Stan and Spotify all to shame.
Direct-to-consumer wine sales grew by 7% in value in 2019-2020, outperforming other channels in Australia, Beverage Daily reports.
St Hugo chief winemaker Peter Munro recently told DMARGE this growth has continued into 2020-2021, due to the extraordinary events that have unfolded across the globe.
“Ecomm has accelerated across all retail categories due to COVID and wine is no exception. This is something we expect to continue as consumers enjoy the convenience and choice.”
“COVID has seen a growth in wine consumption frequency overall with the shift to at-home occasions. It’s also seen a shift to more people supporting local brands and seeking well-known brands they know and trust,” Mr Munro added.
“And whilst imported wine features more than it used to (in the form of an increase in Champagne and French Rose consumption), Australian Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay remain the top varietals for Australian fine wine drinkers.”
Speaking of top tipples, St Hugo (part of Pernod Ricard Winemakers) and Australian F1 star Daniel Ricciardo recently collaborated to launch a limited edition series of fine wines.
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This DR3 x St Hugo collaboration comprises a long-term partnership that will see Ricciardo and St Hugo release new wines each year.
The first iteration of DR3 x St Hugo saw Ricciardo work closely with St Hugo chief winemaker, Peter Munro. The result? Drops of outstanding quality.
“We also knew ecomm was the best option for this collaboration,” Mr Munro told DMARGE. “Daniel has a significant social following and has built a successful ecomm business for his RIC3 merch. We wanted to use the same business model knowing it resonates with his fans.”
Ricciardo said the release is intended to showcase Australian plonk through a one-of-a-kind lens: “I grew up around wine, it’s in my blood. Along with my Italian heritage and my family’s love of sharing wine, my Dad is a bit of a hobby winemaker and I have been surrounded by the passion for wine since I was young.”
“I’m quite a curious kid, I always love learning things, and wine is a true craft, and I want to get in and get my hands dirty and make really spectacular wine that provides a unique perspective on what fine wine is.”
“To be able to do this with St Hugo’s Winemaker, Peter Munro, one of Australia’s best winemakers, is a real privilege. It also guarantees the wines will taste great!”
The DR3 x St Hugo collaboration began with Ricciardo’s passion for wine and culminated in Munro introducing him to a series of St Hugo wines, explaining not just the science and craft that goes into creating fine wine, but also the need for using your intuition at every stage of the winemaking process.
This is where Ricciardo comes in: “I’m approaching the partnership in the same way I approach aspects of my racing,” he said.
“I may not be the engineer who physically finesses the car, but I am the one who is driving it, and I have an instinct for what feels right. I share that with the team so the car can be optimised. With winemaking, I’ll take a similar approach, and in this instance, Peter is the engineer. Pete and I work well together and we want to challenge ourselves to go out of our comfort zones to produce something particularly special.”
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The first release of the DR3 x St Hugo series will include a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 and Barossa Shiraz 2014.
The 2015 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon flaunts some of the signature characteristics of the fruit grown in the Coonawarra region including blackcurrant, dark violets, graphite, slate and oak char.
The 2014 Barossa Shiraz features a generous and full palate, with dark fruit supported by very fine chalky tannins that persist on the tongue.
“Daniel has an insightful way of communicating his appreciation of wine that will only get better over
time as he hones his winemaking skills. The collaboration is a blend of the love of fine wines and the
desire to capture Daniel’s character into the distinctive St Hugo style that represents ‘passion, power
and precision’, creating wine that will continue to excite and energise the Australian wine-drinking
audience. We’re really setting the bar high for what is to come,” said Mr Munro.
Each bottle of the limited edition first release of DR3 x St Hugo will be individually numbered and
presented in a premium gift box. They are currently available to buy online at www.sthugo.com, and ship from the end of March.