For the 2018 winemaker of the year, what do cherry ripes, socks and jocks, Langhorne Creek and polished turds all have to do with it?
It never gets old being invited to trade events, even though after 25 years of living and breathing this great tasting industry there are always those special invites where you get to meet and interact with authorities within the wine industry.
When I was invited to the meet the 2018 winemaker of the year and enjoy a vertical tasting of his signature blend the Frank Potts and taste several other wines from this great winemaker it was only too hard to refuse.
Now, Paul Hotker is a humble man, from humble beginnings and it is fair to say that when he started out his winemaking career, the intention was not to win any awards, but to only make great wine. When you do one of those well; awards follow!
The tasting of the Frank Potts Cabernet Blend started out with the 2002, skipped to 2012, and then tasted through to yet to be released 2015. Although 2002 was probably past its best, the other four were nothing short of classy wines.
Langhorne Creek is underrated and completely understated. While we were tasting these wines, Paul was giving a masterclass on Langhorne Creek, which only reiterated my opinion on this fabulous region.
Bleasdale wines sit in the heart of Langhorne Creek, and this is where Paul puts his skills to work. Sourcing the incredible fruit from this area is always a great starting point for great wine as we will find out a little more on later.
It surprises me that we don’t see more stated appellation for wine from this region, but that could now change, no winemaker from Langhorne Creek has ever won the prestigious winemaker of the year award. As Paul is the first person to be awarded the winemaker of the year award and being from Langhorne Creek we just might see it start to appear more often.
To get to know the 2018 winemaker of the year I asked him some other questions too, and here they are:
- What is your most preferred variety of wine within the Bleasdale wines lineup and beyond that?
Frank Potts, although I drink quite varied and some that I have a connection with – a lot of Margaret River Chardonnay, Mornington Pinot, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills wines. Gewurztraminer from Alsace/New Zealand
- What is the best wine you have ever tried?
Import – 1989 Selection Grande Noble Hugel
RED: Yabby lake Pinot Noir 2012 – Jimmy Watson Trophy Winner
WHITE: Arras Blanc de blanc – Tyrells 2005 Vat 1
- What makes Great Wine?
Good grapes, you need a great season! You cant polish turds into cherry ripes; you need really good grapes, in an ideal world you must have good viticulture management to be able to make the best possible wine.
- After winning the winemaker of the year award for 2018, what is next?
It was never a goal to win the winemaker of the year award, it just sort of happened. After coming close a couple of times, I would still like to win the Jimmy Watson trophy.
- What is your secret to making great wine?
Don’t stuff it up, be diligent within the winery and how you manage the grapes! Monitor your wines, look after them to what is required.
- When you left school early what was it that you wanted to do?
A cowboy! I ended up becoming a jackaroo; I always knew that I wanted to be connected to agriculture or the land in some way. I went back to study winemaking at the age of 25.
- What makes Langhorne Creek so unique?
A combination of beautiful soils, good quality water, cooling breezes of the southern ocean and lake Alexandrina and being in a rain shadow. Similar to Geelong and Hobart, cool and dry is what we all seek. There are even similarities between Margaret River, Heathcote, Eden Valley and the Grampians. All these regions deliver a mid pallet richness which gives wine beautiful appeal.
- What do you get the winemaker of the year for Fathers Day?
Socks / Undies
Please congratulate Paul on this incredible award, if you would like to taste some of the wines then click here.
I have been privileged enough to meet many winemakers along the way and if there is one thing that always seems to be evident with the good ones is that they all have a very humble approach to the way they go about it. It never seems to be about competition within the ring of winemakers but more about best practice and ensuring the wine industry is continuing to improve.
Even in Paul’s acceptance speech, he admits to me he was unsure of what to say, as he just quite simply wants to make the best possible wine that he can for you the consumer, and himself for too.
If you ever get the chance to sit down with these winemakers make sure that you ask plenty of questions, there is no right or wrong, just wine and the journey that each and every one of us on to finding that wine that leaves us smiling, that creates a memory with a friend, that pops just at the right time.
Wine is fun, exciting and the journey is never ending once you are on the wine train. What is your favourite? What wine will you try next? When will your next wine tour take place?