Q&A with Halliday

Fast Five: Alan Hunter

By J'aime Cardillo

31 Aug, 2022

In this series, we ask industry members to share the five drinks that shaped their lives.

Alan Hunter is the general manager at Brisbane’s OTTO Ristorante. Under his leadership, the restaurant has been awarded Wine List of the Year and Two Hats in the Good Food Guide. In 2013, he was announced as the Pol Roger Sommelier of the Year.

Alan HunterAlan Hunter is the general manager at Brisbane’s OTTO Ristorante.

01. 1985 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie
Reims, France
I was captivated by Champagne very early on in my wine journey in the early 2000s. At the time I worked at the hottest restaurant in town (e’cco Bistro) which remarkably allowed BYO. The bottles that came through the venue were extraordinary; there was almost nothing iconic I hadn’t tasted by the end of my stint there. I owe its generous patrons thanks for shaping my career and palate. Inspired by what I saw in-venue, the ’85 Charlie from the millennium disgorgement was one of the first wines I bought to cellar. I saved it for a handful of years and consumed it on my 25th birthday. It was unforgettable and to this day remains one of my benchmarks for judging all others.

02. 2004 Domaine Francois Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux
Burgundy, France
While the vintage or cru will never go down in the history books as the greatest of all time, a bottle of this one lunchtime was my lightbulb moment for Chablis. Furthermore, how complex and satisfying chardonnay could be. While the gap has closed now, at the time it really highlighted how far apart New and Old World styles were, and started my obsession with white Burgundy. This producer’s style is so distinct, unmistakable, and consistent at presenting this region’s terroir. These wines are now sought after, expensive, and hard to find. Reflecting back, we were drinking a bottle of Rav at least once a week. Lucky times indeed.

03. 2005 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang
Loire Valley, France
My favourite of the luxe cuvees from Dagueneau, and for me, the pinnacle of sauvignon blanc from one of the final vintages at the hands of Didier. Once upon a time it was a little easier to obtain and I managed to get my hands on six bottles of this vintage; only one remains. This wine is utterly timeless. Its freshness and vitality always put a smile on my face. I’ve enjoyed it with oysters at the beach, at my wedding, and after a long lunch as a palate cleanser. It’s very rare to see sauvignon blanc reach these heights and I find as much enjoyment here as I do in grand cru white Burgundy.

04. 2007 Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Abruzzo, Italy
My favourite Italian white and a revelation when first tasted that Italy can produce world-class white wine. There is something magic about this trebbiano and it truly improves as it develops with time in the cellar into something most special. Great bottles for me are reminiscent of vintage Champagne that’s been under cork many years. There’s a chewy, baked bread, yeasty autolytic profile that sits so comfortably next to its stone fruit and lemon-citrus acidity. Trebbiano would often correctly be considered beige at best, but, like the aforementioned sauvignon, there are often exceptions to the rule for every variety.

05. Equipo Navazos La Bota de Fino No. 54
Jerez, Spain
Ever since I tried my first fino, Tio Pepe, I developed a fascination and addiction to salty dry sherry. The value-for money ratio is strong, and for an introduction seek out La Goya’s Manzanilla. Equipo Navazos however first caught my attention for its high price for its special bottlings; how much better could sherry get? The texture, concentration, freshness and persistence of flavour this producer gets from its cask selections is second to none. Numbered sequentially, each batch has its detailed history available online if you want to get nerdy on the subject. They’re worth every cent.

This article appears in issue #66 of Halliday magazineBecome a member to receive the print publication as well as digital access.