You may recall I wrote a somewhat emotional letter in mid-March about the many unsung wine-business victims of the horrid December bushfire in the Adelaide Hills – good folk with vineyards and unheralded cellar doors who hadn’t garnered the publicity of others and who were keen for visitors to come buy their wine and keep their businesses afloat.
Many did just that and were welcomed with open arms.
One of the follow-on projects of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region to support those fire-affected was to create a community wine to raise further funds to go directly back to the region’s grapegrowers, winemakers and vineyard owners.
That wine – the Hills Appeal 2019 Syrah Meunier – has been released, all 10,800 bottles of it at $28 a go.
After a good smattering of social media upon release, I’ve had several conversations which have raised a fascinating question concerning such “social benefit” fundraiser wines. Put simply it goes like this: “I’d like to support the cause but is the actual wine in the bottle any good?”
It’s an interesting one, isn’t it?
There’s a great story behind the wine. We need little reminding of the disastrous fire of December 20, which affected not just those in and around the impact zone but the whole Adelaide Hills wine community. Yet out of such a catastrophe the response has been one of extraordinary resilience and hope.
Twenty-one producers have contributed barrels of mostly 2019 red wine – their names are on the back label and at https://www.adelaidehillswine.com.au/hills-appeal/ where you can buy the wine. It’s mostly Shiraz (81 percent) but also Pinot Meunier (about 10 percent), with Pinot Noir and a few other bits and pieces of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Viognier and Malbec. One might rightly wonder what kind of drink will result.
I came across my first taste of it at the wonderful Salopian Inn restaurant in McLaren Vale where bar manager and sommelier Alex Marchetti had it pouring by the glass. Actually, I didn’t twig at first that this was the fundraiser wine – I just liked the potential of Syrah and Meunier together. When Alex brought the bottle to the table to pour, I was more than excited to taste such a wine with a cause. The wine had a delicious energy and lift to it beside the vibrant flavours served at lunch.
I went straight to a Hills bottle-0 and bought more.
For the sake of a mini-tasting note, its bright floral fragrance spills into a juicy, medium-bodied and light-hearted red wine that sings of all the vital signs of a modern Australian wine culture.
Sure, it’s a regional reflection. Sure, it tastes of community spirit and determination. And, sure, it will deliver critical funds directly to those in need.
And in this case the wine itself is a breath of fresh air in tough times.
My unsolicited advice would be to buy some to support the Hills wine community first and foremost. Those warm and fuzzies, you’ll find, are more than equalled by what’s in the bottle.