Australian F1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo recently released a new series of wine he has made with St Hugo. Here, he shares his passions and the connections between winemaking and racing.
H. Was there a moment or bottle that made you fall in love with wine?
D. I think it was an accumulation of time with my family, particularly my dad, being very much into wine; I grew up around it. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I really acquired a taste for it. I was gifted a bottle and I remember opening it with a couple of friends one night, and it was beautiful. That was a moment when I felt I could really start to enjoy it in the company of friends.
H. Having travelled so much, where have you made your best wine discoveries?
D. That’s one of the beauties of wine – there are some many different regions and places that have great wine. I spend a lot of time in California and I really do like the wines from there. Back home in Australia is great, too, especially the wineries in Margaret River, which isn’t far from where I grew up.
H. What’s your all-time favourite wine and food experience?
D. My family came out to California a few years ago and I’d rented a house where we had a big dinner with my cousin, who also lives in California. It was just a nice occasion – it was summer, and we were all celebrating being together, so I suppose it’s not a massively significant moment, but one I remember and treasure.
H. How would you describe your collection?
D. In the making! It’s all pretty full-bodied – I’m not really into the lighter wines like pinot noir, but I should probably get some for variety. I also have some Italian wines as I’m trying to learn more about them.
H. Is there a wine you always celebrate your wins with?
D. There’s not one in particular, but I’d normally go for a slightly more expensive bottle. Nothing crazy, but maybe over $100.
H. How does it feel to be involved on the other side of wine?
D. It’s fascinating for me. I think I’m quite a curious kid in a way. I always love learning things, especially those I have an interest in and want to know more about, so it’s been really cool to understand wine a little more. My dad is really passionate about it, but probably doesn’t have a whole lot of insight, so this is knowledge I can pass on to him and then we can have more conversations about it and spend more time together because of it.
D. Like all things, it takes time. It’s similar to success; there’s no such thing as quick success. No bottle tastes great after a week, generally it takes years – not only for the maturing process, but also getting it to the product that’s in the bottle. I’m still learning, but that’s the main take-out – anything of craft takes time and dedication.
D. Patience, for sure. Good things come to those who wait. Also, the detail. It’s a lot like engineering with a race car. Every last detail makes a difference and that goes down to the vines, the growing, and then the final product and the visual – how nice the bottle looks to sell and attract the market. Every little bit counts.
H. Is there a wine your parents loved?
D. As a kid, I remember Chianti being a very common word and I didn’t even realise it was a wine. I heard it so much I thought it was just a drink in itself. Dad is certainly a full-body wine guy.
H. Has there been a wine that’s taught you a lesson?
D. There was a wine we poured and drank straight away that didn’t taste particularly good, so we put it in a decanter, let it air and do its thing, and it tasted completely different – for the better. It shows you can’t rush it. Take the time and let it sit.
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