“The Ultimate Viniculturalist’s” Game-Changing Shiraz
“The ultimate viniculturist.” That’s what Australia’s greatest critic, James Halliday, called Bleasdale winemaker Paul Hotker after naming him 2017-2018 Winemaker of the Year. The award caps an unprecedented hot streak dating to 2007, when Hotker arrived at Bleasdale. Since then, he has turned out 11 wines rated 95 points or above. The latest, Hotker’s 2015 Bleasdale Bremerview Shiraz Langhorne Creek, earned 95 points from Halliday, as well as a gold medal from Australia’s most prestigious wine competition, the National Wine Show. Halliday could barely contain himself, hailing “a masterful play between luscious Langhorne Creek fruit and a spicy, savory finish.” Hotker’s “extraordinary skill” is on full display here, but what may be more incredible still, is that he made it all happen for under-$20. Halliday hit the nail on the head when he called the 2015 Bremerview a “dizzying value.” Elsewhere, up to $28 — but on Wine Access just $15.99 per bottle. It doesn’t get much better.
What sets Paul Hotker apart from the crowd isn’t just his incredibly keen palate, or his unerring drive to make better and better wines, it’s his vision. Hotker is at the forefront of a new movement in Australian wine centered around freshness, fruit, and vibrancy; elegance over brute strength.
At Bleasdale, Hotker is in his element. Just north of Lake Alexandrina in South Australia, Langhorne Creek is one of the country’s few cool-climate appellations. Tempered by the chilly winds off the lake, Langhorne Creek is ideally suited to growing the vibrant, high-acid fruit that Hotker seeks. Particularly in 2015, mild temperatures coupled with drought conditions lead to an incredible harvest — Shiraz berries black as night, highly concentrated, and wonderfully balanced, with natural acidity maintained by cool, Langhorne Creek nights.
Established in 1850 by Frank Potts, Bleasdale is Australia’s second-oldest family-run winery. Day-to-day operations remain in the hands of Potts’ descendants — currently fifth and sixth-generation. Old man Potts chose wisely when he felled the towering red gum trees of Langhorne Creek to make way for his vines. 150 years later, his estate is leading the way in Australia, propelled by magnificent bottlings like the 2015 Bremerview Shiraz.
Cristaldi has worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade as a professional writer, critic, and educator. His published work has appeared in national print and online outlets including Food & Wine, Los Angeles Magazine, SOMM Journal, and many others.