Hugh Hamilton Wines – Barrel to Bottle

There is quite a lot that goes into wine making. With so many wineries producing so many wines it easy to believe that it’s an easy process. For those who have passion and put all their heart into their craft every little detail of the wine making process is delicate and deliberate. Since colonisation the family at Hugh Hamilton Wines have put their heart and soul into every bottle. Artisans of their craft they stress over every step of the process. With the Hugh Hamilton Barrel to Bottle experience, Hugh Hamilton Wines looks to open a window to the intricacies of everything that is wine with a special emphasis on barrels and how to affects the taste of wine as it ages.

Barrel to Bottle is one of a few events Hugh Hamilton Wines run every year to demonstrate the different steps in the wine making process. As the name suggests Barrel to Bottle focuses on the barrelling process and everything that goes into that. As part of this demonstration into the importance of barrelling Hugh Hamilton Wines have released 3 wines that bear the names of the coopers involved. These are the Vicard, Francios Freres and Ermitage. During this event the crew at Hugh Hamilton demonstrate how these 3 different barrels affects the flavour of the wine and just how important this step in winemaking is.

The event is long as it takes you through a huge amount of information into the barrelling process. The group is split into 3 and takes part in 3 different activities throughout the day. The event goes from 10:30am to 4:00pm so be prepared to be jammed packed with knowledge the whole day. The activities include a Q&A session with Hugh Hamilton himself as he answers any and all questions you have in regards to winemaking. Hugh is informative and goes into detailed explanations of the steps involved with plenty of stories on how particular wines are made and the history of Hugh Hamilton Wines.

You will also take part in the bottling and labelling of your own wines. A simple exercise but no less fun and it helps break up all the absorbing of information you do throughout the day. The longest and most complex activity during the day is a wine tasting session run by Mary Hamilton and Nic Bourke as they run you through the wines that have been barrelled in barrels from different coopers and guide you through the different flavours that each barrel imparts on the wine. This session is also jam packed with knowledge and information to give a better insight into winemaking. In each of the activities during the day the people at Hugh Hamilton Wines demonstrate how much love and passion they have for winemaking and how important everyone at Hugh Hamilton is.

The day is finished off with a late lunch. Clearly the most important part of any day out, the food, catered by Emma Reeves. For lunch was a Brined BBQ Chicken in Lemon, Marjaram and Paprika, with Labne, Saffron Oil, Calendula Flowers and Mint alongside a Pork, Rocket and Fennel Seed Sausage and Muhammara Dip and Flat Bread. After a long day in the vineyard this meal is infinitely satisfying. Complementary with the wines served along with dishes, the flavours are not overpowering in the slightest but instead gentle yet still distinctive.

Served as a side to this dish is Charred Corn, Jerusalem Artichoke, Zucchini, Persian Fetta, Beans and Jalapeno as well as Potato Salad with Speck, Shallots, Mint and Mustard Pesto. Both of these are very fresh side dishes, again made not to have any one overpowering flavour but to instead complement the other ingredients and most importantly satisfy hungry bellies.


To finish off was dessert. Willunga Almond Torte with Vanilla Seed Mascarpone, Caramelised Blood Orange and Pistachio Praline. This dish falls into line with the ones I described earlier, pleasant and complimentary. If there is any dish that should take you for a spin it should be dessert so I would of appreciated a more impactful dessert. It still hits all the right notes, slightly crunchy, a tang from the blood orange, a composed sweetness.

Everything is done right as intended which is understandable considering its paired with a fortified wine.
The wines served with this set were a 2019 ‘The Floozie’ Sangiovese Rose, 2018 ‘Three Bags Full’ Grenache Shiaz Mataro, 2018 ‘The Nimble King Cabernet Sauvignon and a NV ‘Bloodline 1837’ Pedro Ximenez. After a day full of reds, The Floozie was a refreshing change and was light enough to make a good pairing with the chicken however I am always partial to a good GSM and Three Bags Full has that in spades. All together every wine during the day had its own highlights.

The Barrel to Bottle is an annual event and part of a series of events that demonstrate the different steps in the wine making process so keep an eye out for other events in this series. It is an engaging sight to see someone talk in such depth about something they truly love.

Words by Jonathon Tonkin

WHERE: 94 McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale

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