MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, APRIL 11 2022: Inside the Extreme WOW suite on the 15th floor of the W, Australian Formula 1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo stands tall, just as he did on the Monza podium at the Italian Grand Prix in September of 2021.
The 32-year-old – clad in a Gucci red-checked collared shirt with an embroidered dragon, and Amiri kicks – peers over his left shoulder with a warm smile, just as he did to British-Belgium driver Lando Norris on the winning podium that day in Monza before they sprayed each other with champagne. But today, the man to his left is St. Hugo’s Chief Winemaker Peter Munro and today, we’re not celebrating champagne but rather Ricciardo’s second red wine collaboration with the revered wine brand.
“I think I say ‘shiraz’,” says Ricciardo to a room full of journalists, over-pronouncing the ‘a’. “Shiraz sounds more Australian, doesn’t it?”
“But here we go, this is education for all of us,” he continues, gesturing to Munro.
“Well, I’m from Melbourne so I would say, ‘Shirarz’,’ says Munro, spelt phonetically here for your audible imaginations.
“Shirarz sounds more sophisticated,” agrees Ricciardo, laughing.
The latest release – a DR3 X St. Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and DR3 x St. Hugo South Australia Shiraz 2020 – represents the next phase in Ricciardo’s winemaking journey with St. Hugo, one which began in 2021, and saw him this time take on a more active, hands-on role in the blending and the tasting of the wine. A feat when Munro lives in Australia and Ricciardo predominantly in Los Angeles (when he’s not on circuit, of course.)
“To create this Shiraz, I was in LA and I got sent pipettes – I nearly just called it a pepita but that’s the name for a pumpkin seed!” Ricciardo laughs. “We did it all over video call and I had six bottles and sampled every single one and talked it through, and wrote notes on what I tasted.”
“This year the rubber hit the road,” Munro tells ICON. “Daniel was (virtually) in the room as we looked at all the individual wines that had the potential to make the second release of the DR3 Shiraz. This process was no different to the way we at St. Hugo approach blending any of our premium wines. Everyone in the room is expected to add their insight into the wines and the blending process; we didn’t let Daniel off the hook. He was very impressive in the way he expressed his perception of the wines and his preferences as we progressed towards our preferred blend.”
While I caught word Ricciardo was a little nervous to speak at this event, you could never have guessed it. Really personable, jovial and down to earth, Munro says these parts of the Formula 1 driver’s personality came into the final products.
“What was really interesting was the emphasis Daniel placed on vibrant, generous flavours in the wines, which has to be reflective of his vibrant personality and the way he puts people at ease!” he says.
“This played out well in the blending, because as a winemaker I tend to slightly prioritise the structure (tannins, mouthfeel, texture) of the wine over the flavour,” he continues. “Daniel’s influence and comments pushed a stronger consideration on the fruit flavours and this is reflected in the final wine, exhibiting vibrant, plush, pure red fruit flavours.”
The Shiraz, a product of individually created parcels sourced from a range of South Australian regions and matured in oak for 14 months, “screams ‘joyful’ when first encountered and demands close friends and warm, honest conversations”, says Munro.
“Over time it reveals a dense and darker side that will happily absorb the most demanding of D&M’s,” he says.
Classical and classy, the Cabernet highlights the distinctive regional characteristics of fruit grown on terra rossa soil over limestone.
“Structural with regional blackcurrant fruit, this is a fruit-forward style – generous, open, and with long fine tannins to ensure it will age gracefully over 10 to 15 years,” says Munro. “This would effortlessly take pride of place at the main course dinner party where conversation bounces around the table and ideas are debated in good faith.”
Each bottle of the limited-edition second release of DR3 x St. Hugo will be individually numbered and presented in a newly designed collectable premium gift box.
This release also includes the incredible Ricciardo Decanter, an “aerodynamic” glass-blown wine decanter moulded from one of Ricciardo’s famous racing shoes – and took 100 hours to make! (The star’s mother sent one of her son’s shoes to St. Hugo to work off. When asked if she sent a new shoe or a used shoe, Ricciardo laughs. “Mum sent a new one. She knows the value of an old shoe!” Cue the room erupting into laughter at the sheer honesty.)
The piece of art is exactly that – a piece of art – but is also functional, with the team experimenting with detailed surface textures, volumetrics, pouring angles, and ergonomics.
Of the Grand Prix weekend, Ricciardo smiles as he recounts how great it was to be competing in Australia again. “It was really nice to be back home racing. It was a different feeling after missing it for a few years after COVID and everything,” he says. “It was nuts and the atmosphere was insane but everyone was kind like, ‘Ah, welcome back!’ Everyone was just happy to have F1 back here and obviously I felt the home love.”
But as for partying on Sunday evening, Ricciardo was too spent.
“I don’t know if Formula 1s are getting more hectic and the schedules are getting busier, or I’m just getting older, but there was no way I could party last night,” he says. “I think if I was still buzzy with energy on Sunday evening, I’d question if I put all my energy into the weekend and gave everything I could to the race.”
DR3 x St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 – 750ml – AUD$70 RRP
DR3 x St Hugo South Australia Shiraz 2020 – RRP $AUD – 750ml: $70 / 1.5 Ltr:$140 / 3 Ltr: $260 / 6 Ltr: $500
Ricciardo Decanter – RRP AUD$700