For the first time in our 10 year history, Hot 100 Wines has brought a set of industry ambassadors on board for the 2016/17 season.
These industry ambassadors are not the prize-winners. They are not winery-owners or import/export merchants. They are at the coal-face of an under-appreciated, yet utterly crucial portal of the Australian wine industry: hospitality.
Proof’s Caitlin MacPherson, Mother Vine’s Patrick Madden, Apothecary’s Paola Coro and Hains & Co.’s David Danby are this year’s Hot 100 Wines Industry Ambassadors.
In each of these esteemed Adelaide venues, wine is a big deal. The patient and courteous hospitality workers at each are well-versed in the wines they stock and able to communicate with clients – be they connoisseurs or novices – about wine’s virtues and unique characteristics.
As Adelaide’s wine culture grows, so too the public’s tastes and expectations. Much of this understanding is shaped by people like our industry ambassadors. So who better to get an insight on how South Australia’s wine world is maturing, than these fine professionals?
Mother Vine’s Madden says that he has noticed a “change in pre-conceived ideas of wine” in recent years. “Consumers used to be fixated on wines from iconic regions, made in a certain style using well known varieties. I now notice consumers, young and old, willing to try new varieties, new styles from lesser known regions.”
He is excited by this shift and explosion of diversity, which is happily reflected in the sheer variety of this year’s Hot 100 list. Mother Vine caters to a crowd as broad as their taste in wine, explains Madden, but wine selection for the venue is a simple calculation: “If the wine is good and we like it, we get it in.”
“Our approach is to look at each wine for its quality, regardless of style or pre-conceived idea,“he says.
“It is not so much about favouring styles, whether the wine be natural or conventional, old or young, from an established region or producer or not. If the wine can stand up on its own quality alone, then it is a fit for us.”
It’s a simple-sounding ethos but a relatively new one in an industry that has so often relied on preconceptions about regionality, variety and style. It is in this that Madden’s philosophy lines up so well with the key criteria behind Hot 100 Wines: drinkability.
“‘Drinkability’ is a term we see used more and more lately,” Madden says.
“Some of the best wines I’ve seen lately have been young, fresh and highly drinkable. In my opinion, there is space for many styles. Sometimes an older wine with layers of complexity is great to sit down with friends and pick apart the different aspects of the wine and really get into the nitty gritty of it. Other times it’s about drinking something that’s delicious, fresh and highly ‘smashable’.”
Hot 100 Wines makes its mark each year for an ambassador like Madden, and helps contribute to his venue’s own wine list.
“Since Mother Vine’s inception in 2014, we have always received interest in wines that have placed well in the Hot 100. We embrace this, get the wines in and encourage our guests to get involved and see what it’s all about.”