The Hidden Sea – wine with a higher purpose?
Like most consumer-facing retail industries, the wine sector is no stranger to adaption and accommodating change. Over the years, customer preferences and prejudices have resulted in savvy winemakers adjusting their style, experimenting with varietals and refreshing strategies to market their product to new and emerging markets. We’ve seen the wax and wane of biodynamic winemaking, the rise of minimal intervention wine-making practices and even the shifting sands of the use of French and American oak. Now, in a post-pandemic world, we seem to be returning to our awareness of the fragility of the planet on which we live. Climate change, environmental awareness and a social conscience are at the forefront of the minds of wine industry participants.
Against this background, I was intrigued by the story of a Limestone Coast producer, The Hidden Sea, who have a new range of everyday drinking wines aimed at the socially aware wine drinker – for every bottle of wine they sell they promise to remove ten plastic bottles from the ocean. Their goal: to remove one billion bottles from the ocean by 2030! It sounds like just another marketing pitch, that is, until you dig a bit deeper into the story of the vineyard.
Located on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, The Hidden Sea name is a reflection of the vast ocean which was once home to a thriving marine ecosystem until about 26 million years ago when a series of ice ages buried it beneath the rich alluvial soils of what are now the local vineyards. Conscious of the ancient mineralised relics that lay beneath the vines, the mission and purpose of the winery is founded on a respect for the heritage of the region and the marine ecosphere that is the genesis of the rich soils that make the world-class Limestone Coast possible.
But what about the wines?
The Hidden Sea collection includes a chardonnay, pinot grigio, rosé, GSM, shiraz and pinot noir. All have a RRP of less than $15 a bottle; so they’re very much pitched at the value end of the spectrum. The 2019 chardonnay uses local Limestone Coast fruit and has a delightful straw yellow colour in the glass. On the nose there are hints of guava and nectarine, but once on the palate it’s all about the lychees, peach and nectarines that embrace the French oak and cuddle it through a nicely balanced conclusion.
While the GSM and pinot are perfectly palatable, the 2020 shiraz is probably the pick of the reds. Crafted from a blend of fruit from a range of South Australian sites (including the Limestone Coast), the intensity of the fruit is telegraphed by the depth of the colour in the glass. There’s quince paste on the nose and ripe plums and a sweet compote of strawberry, raspberry and plums through the middle. The power of opulent fruit continues through the conclusion where hints of oak do little to subdue the juicy ripe berries. It’s a luscious jammy style that is sure to prove popular with the masses, though it’s perhaps not a style designed to spend any length of time in the cellar. It’s probably not a style that will impress the purists, but I reckon it’s palate-pleasing enough to be a hit with cost-conscious consumers.
The Hidden Sea team deny that they are creating a drinking moment; but rather say they are creating a movement. Removing 1 billion plastic bottles from the ocean is an undoubtedly ambitious task, but one which is befitting of a wine with a higher purpose. You’ll find them on the shelves of all BWS shelves from Byron Bay to Noosa, and at the price point, they’re ripping value!