In a wine world where age worthiness is king, where exactly should deliciously delightful wine stand? That is a question that often goes quietly into the good night. Now, wine experts from South Australia are revolting and giving awards to wines that drink so well, keeping them in cellar is deprivation of pleasure. Who are these mavericks? They are the Hot 100.
Organised by The Adelaide Review, the Hot 100 is a wine competition like no others. Out goes categorisation by countries, regions, and price point. Instead, wines are entered under categories like “Structural and Savoury”, “Power and Presence”, or “Forward with Finesse”. Names that send to consumers a direct and clear message, we can find what we want without technical details. And of course, with such a different approach, the wine judges engaged also go beyond the norm. How often do we see brewers and chocolatiers on wine judging panel?
Innovative ways to engage consumer is not a new thing in Australia. Founder of Bottle Shop Concepts, Dan Sims is one trendsetter. His projects, Pinot Palooza and Games of Rhones, achieved success with consumers in both Australia and New Zealand. By leveraging on pop culture, he created reasons (or excuses) for people to party with great wines taking a supporting role. More wines, less fluff, more fun. Although parties with wines are often held in Singapore, options are typically non-existent, if not exorbitantly expensive.
Nick Ryan, who hosted the event, described the people of Singapore and Adelaide as those whose brain and heart are governed by stomach. That statement is at least true in the food aspect. Just look at how people are raising their pitchforks at Michelin Guide Singapore. Yet many people asked me for wines that can age instead of buying wines that appeal to their taste buds. Running a finger down wine list and picking the second least expensive wine is still the winning formula. If only we have more honesty with what we want, and not how people perceive us.
Over the lunch at Pollen on 25 July, ten Hot 100 wines were paired with dishes designed by Chef Angelo Rosso. Of these, only McGuigan The Shortlist Riesling 2007 was aged more than five years. The remaining made after 2013 include Chaffey Bros Wine Co. Dufte Punkt 2015 (blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer), Tscharke Wines Estate Grenanche Mataro 2014, Eden Hall Riesling 2015, and The Other Wine Co. Grenache 2015.
The common attributes these wines have are youthful aroma, fresh acidity, and slightly lower on alcohol (13 per cent is low by today’s standard). They showed varietal characteristics at its best without being unnecessarily complex. In other words, wines that were consistent with what judges had in mind. Delicious, digestible, and enjoyable. Wines that contrast the idea that the longer you take to finish, the better a wine is.
No, these wines are good, and I want to finish them quick.