Conor van der Reest had been keen to work in Tasmania.

What drives a man? Daniel Ricciardo is no stranger to the world stage but his taste for red wine seems to remain firmly within Australian boundaries. 2022 marks the second release of the acclaimed DR3 x St Hugo collaboration, a project which has seen the 32-year-old team up with St Hugo chief winemaker Peter Munro to produce expressive examples of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that, according to Munro, are reflective of Ricciardo’s personality: “lively and joyful, but serious at the core.” The new releases include the expressive 2018 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (A$70) and 2020 South Australia Shiraz (A$70), both of which are structurally more approachable than St Hugo’s traditional offerings. GT WINE editor Dom Sweeney spoke with Ricciardo on the cusp of the new releases.

Daniel Ricciardo has teamed up with St Hugo for another year. 

Dom Sweeney: How did the second year of production differ from the first and what did you take away from the experience? 

Daniel Ricciardo: The first year was exciting and really cool, launching a wine and seeing the brand come to life. It was a real honour. But being able to be more involved in the winemaking process from the start with the latest releases really took that to the next level and is something I’m so proud of because these wines definitely have more of a personal touch. 

Throughout this year’s process, I was able to get more involved and experience some hands-on blending and tasting, so I was able to have more control over the shape, structure, and flavour profile of these wines  more than ever before. Even though I was still in Los Angeles due to travel restrictions, I had the same tasting components as Peter, and I went through the blending process virtually with him and then sent the samples back. 

I was able to think more about the process, how the tannins finish off the wine, where it sits on the palate and how I want the wines to be consumed, and with what foods. It’s really exciting to see my tasting notes on the back of the bottles, just seeing that growth and understanding of wine.

DS: Considering your higher degree of involvement this time around, did you notice any evolution in the wines with this release?

DR: I’ve just learnt more about wine and what I like from wine. I always wanted to create something that was easy to drink, but I also love full flavour and that explosion on your tastebuds, so it was about finding a balance and bringing those components that are my personal preference. This is the first year of DR3 where we went into vintage with an idea of what we were after and sourced fruit from blocks specifically to reinforce the style. These wines are less traditional in structure, more fruit-driven, floral, and open; they push more towards an elegant style with floral characters.

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DS: What’s it like working with Peter – and has he inspired a second career choice? 

DR: It’s been great to work with Peter. I remember telling people that there are similarities between Formula 1 and  winemaking. They give me a funny look but we’re both chasing that little edge, trying to perfect our craft. For me, Peter is that perfect engineer who knows his craft so well, but also remains open-minded and willing to try new things. He’s been a great tutor and a great partner to develop these wines with – but it’s definitely not a career change for me.

DS: You’ve said you grew up around wine, and clearly have an affinity for it. How do you maintain balance between enjoying a glass of shiraz or cabernet, and keeping up with everything required for training and racing? 

DR: I absolutely love a glass of wine but I am an also athlete who trains for 11 months of the year, so I always need to appreciate it in the right moment. I would normally be enjoying one of those moments once a month, but that is what makes it more special. And if I am reaching for a glass of something, it would have to be a shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, those are my go-to wines. After the Monza GP win, after the media, the engineering, I was back at my motorhome with my team. I opened a bottle of DR3 to celebrate, that was pretty special. 

DS: Lastly, what would you choose to eat with these wines – and where would it be?

DR: This needs to be picked carefully, I might need a minute here! Alright, for the Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, I’d have this paired with my mum’s penne con salsiccia, all while sitting on the back deck on the farm. I can’t go past my mum’s cooking! And for the shiraz, it would have to be a rib eye from 4 Charles in New York. It’s one of my favourite spots in NYC.