St Hugo has provided me with some of the outstanding moments in my wine life.
When the brand was part of the Jacob’s Creek stable, I remember tasting the classic St. Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet and being astounded by the purity of expression of origin and style. Now St. Hugo has emerged as its own brand, forging an identity as a premium producer of not only South Australian iconic reds, but also Riesling and Chardonnay.
St Hugo is immediately recognisable in a line up, which is not hyperbole but fact, as I found for myself when judging the Limestone Coast Wine Show. In the midst of a morning of Coonawarra Cabernets, I came across a wine that made me sit up and think ‘St Hugo?’ and my suspicions were confirmed at the exhibitors tasting when the wines were revealed and I could track down my suspected and now confirmed St. Hugo.
2014 St. Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
A classic, seamless example of a Coonawarra Cabernet with lifted mint and a deep backbone of cassis fruit. The structure of this wine is just beginning to mellow and open. As the 34th vintage of the St Hugo, this wine shows the true pedigree of the label and its ability to age. Oak is there and provides an underlying dynamic force, but the joyously ripe blackcurrant fruit lifts and balances its spiciness.
2012 St. Hugo Cellar Selection Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Still a deep inky ruby colour with a powerful nose of mint chocolate. Quite heady and redolent of classic Coonawarra with eucalypt and cassis. A rich and big wine with serious tannins, that is just beginning to open up as it still very much at the start of its development. This is not a shy wine – and would be excellent in pairing with robust Sichuan and Northwestern Chinese dishes. One sip conjures up a Xinjiang spiced roast lamb to accompany it.
2010 St Hugo Vetus Purum Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2010s out of Coonawarra are generally deliciously rich wines and this is no exception. With that distinctive note of peppermint chocolates, this wine shows very little signs of ageing. Still vibrantly ruby and bursting with ripe black cassis and bramble fruit on the nose with supporting new oak notes. On the palate, it has ripe coating tannin, well-integrated alcohol, some lifting acidity, with plenty of ripe fruit, chocolate and coffee with a touch of cedar, and absolutely in line with the style. Opulent, commanding and rich.