This is what a $7,000 wine tasting looks like

“Hi Drew, how would you like a $7000 wine weekend for free this Saturday and Sunday?”

“Sounds good, what’s the catch?”

“You’ve got to be an actor in a commercial we’re making for Dan Murphys liquor stores – sound good?”

“Hmmmm – over-acting is what I do best!  Sign me up!”

And there you have it, two days later I was being flown to South Australia’s Barossa Valley to film a promo for the new St Hugo Wines cellar door – and to drink in 7,000 bucks worth of fun!

The name St Hugo was fresh in my memory – and it’s the reason why I was so happy to sell out my wine writing soul.  Two weeks earlier I came across the new St Hugo Private Collection wines at a tasting – all from South Australia’s brilliant 2012 vintage.  To put it mildly, these were not the St Hugo wines I was used to.  I always looked at St Hugo Wines as well made staples of commercial bottle shops.

The Private Collection wines were next level stuff, at $80 a pop, they were also exclusive to cellar door.  My interest was also piqued when told there was a massive investment was underway that would breathe life into the Aussie warhorse.  In the pipeline were a slew of premium wines even more expensive than the Private Collection, as well as a new multi-million dollar cellar door.  One of the wines waiting to be released is rumoured to be costing $500 a bottle!   It seems the St Hugo owners were definitely eyeing Penfolds as a brand they’d like to emulate.  The $7,000 weekend experienced was designed to show everything off – in Grande Style.  [Stay tuned, because at the end, I’ll let you know how you can win a weekend all for yourself!]

This is what you get for $7,000

  • Return flights for two people from any Australian capital to Adelaide, and then a Limousine transfer from the airport to the Barossa Valley
  • Accommodation in the 1840 homestead of Jacob Gramp, one of the Barossa Valley’s founding fathers (seriously pimped out)
  • A spectacular sunset tour of one of Australia’s most famous Riesling plots, The Steingartan Vineyard. Established during the 1960s, atop a remote ridge of the Barossa Valley, the owners had to dynamite the rocky soil before they could plant vines.  Not only will you toast the sunset with a bottle of Steingartan Riesling, you also get to hurl a glass of Steingartan over your shoulder to water the vines.  It’s a tradition!
  • Then retire to your accommodation for a good night’s sleep. Or you can be like me [don’t], and open the 6 bottles of wine left on the kitchen table and conduct your own impromptu wine tasting from the comfort of your bath tub!  Paired perfectly with the Barossa Valley cheese platter that greets you on your return!  Don’t overindulge on your first night though, the secret to this $7,000 wine weekend is to pace yourself!
  • The next day is jam packed with wine tastings. First you’ll meet with St Hugo’s in -house sommelier James for a tour of the recently opened cellar door, who starts off with a tasting of the current St Hugo range
  • From this tasting, you’ll head down stairs to the VIP barrel tasting room. Here you’ll taste the past, the present and future of St Hugo.  You’ll taste barrel samples from the maturing 2016 vintage, wines that are 20 years old, and the super-premium, $240 a bottle Vetus Purum Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra.
  • Let’s go for a vineyard tour and a quick lesson on how grapes are grown. Walking amongst the wines is not going to satisfy you’re thirst for knowledge however, you’ll need to inspect these babies from the air.  On cue, your helicopter will set down in front of your cottage, taking you for a tour of the Barossa Valley’s many sub regions.  This is important, because right after lunch, you’ve got another wine tasting where you’ll get to taste the difference between these sub regions.
  • A delicious lunch is then prepared for you – ours included massive tomahawk steaks barbequed to perfection – they were freaking massive! By now you’re feeling tired, lots of wine, lots of food.  It’s time for a mid afternoon siesta.  You’ve got a massive night ahead of you.
  • If the thought of an 8 course degustation meal scares you, fear not, because you’re in safe hands. Marc McNamara is the man at the reins of St Hugo Wines cellar door restaurant, and tonight, you’re sitting at his chef’s table, which looks straight in to the kitchen.  Every dish is placed in front of you with a matching wine, and an explanation of how the dish matches perfectly.  As a former sommelier, I’m very impressed with the way Marc and his team have arrived at the dishes on the menu.
  • All of his chefs do a blind tasting of the St Hugo wines to uncover the flavours of each bottle.  From there, they head to the kitchen and taste the wine individually with approximately 100 staple ingredients.  If the wine is a match, that component heads through the final round.  With a narrowed down list of ingredients, herbs and spices, all the chefs then create their own dish for what can only be described as a quasi-Masterchef elimination round. The best dish (or hybrid of two top dishes) becomes the winner and then goes through to star on the menu. Such a unique system, and one that showcases some very cool dishes that work seamlessly with the wines at the cellar door restaurant. Lobster matched with a red wine – hold your judgement until you’ve tasted this combo!
  • Day tour of the Barossa Valley with Barossa Experience Tours

Who wants a free $7,000 Experience?

If you want to win one of these $7,000 St Hugo Wines experiences, all you have to do is shop at Dan Murphys liquor stores in Australia during March 2017.  Simply scan your ‘My Dan Murphys’ card when you purchase any item in the store and you will receive one entry in to the competition.  If you purchase any St Hugo wine, you will get 5 entries in to the competition!  Sounds like a good excuse to buy a case!!

If you don’t already have a My Dan Murphys card, you can apply for one here – they are free.

If you think that is special, there is one tier higher – the $150,000 Sainthood  Experience (sadly, I did not experience this)

what you get: A chartered plane to the St Hugo vineyard in Coonawarra to name your own row of vines. A wine blending session with St Hugo Wine’s chief winemaker, which includes grapes from the vines that are now named after you. The wine you blend together will then be stored in the St Hugo vault and delivered to your home by the winemaker three years later (in any sized bottle you can dream of). Even if you live in Siberia – expect St Hugo Wines’ winemaker to knock on your door!   Price includes meals, transfer by luxury car and five-star accommodation for a night in Adelaide and two in the Barossa.

Note: The Wine Wankers have a commercial arrangement with St Hugo Wines (it’s kinda obvious – we appeared in their commercial!)  But in saying that, we only agreed to this arrangement because we were blown away by the 2012 St Hugo Private Collection wines, which we tasted two week prior to filming.  The Wine Wankers will only ever agree to commercial arrangements when we believe the quality of the wine is something we would recommend to our followers.