Smallfry Red Blend 2009 (Barossa Valley, SA)
$28, Screwcap, 15%
You notice it as soon as you shake his hand. Wayne Ahrens, Smallfry proprietor, has the rough hands of a worker. Not the red stained hands of a winemaker, but the rough hands of a man who spends his day in the vineyard. When I meet a producer with hands like these I just know that the wines will be good.
And I’m not disappointed.
Wayne’s wines speak of the amount of effort that goes into his vineyards, vineyards which are now on the brink of organic (and eventually biodynamic) certification and provide some seriously good fruit.
This wine, for example, comes from Wayne’s Vine Vale vineyard, located at the foothills of the Barossa Ranges, at the Eastern side of the Barossa Valley. The Vine Vale vineyard is planted to Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro, Carignan and Cinsault (and some Semillon) and contains plantings that date back to the 1880’s (at least).
It’s that vineyard’s deep soil of pure sand over clay that Wayne believes give this wine it’s particular combination of spice and power. A combination that works perfectly here.
In fact, it’s a wine that shows the product of three positive elements – a promising vintage, attentive viticulture and an old vineyard full of well suited varieties.
Sitting in the glass, this Smallfry blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro, Carignan and Cinsault looks a bit cloudy – unfiltered I’m guessing – with an almost rustic bronzing at the edges. Surprising then that the nose is so bright and fresh, dominated by spicy, lightly confected, beautifully ripe Grenache fruit backed by spicy dark meatiness. Sweet and pure, yet rustic and savoury, it’s a nose that ticks heaps of boxes.
The palate too is a riot of jubes, game, fruit pastilles, licorice and red fruit. It starts with sweet gamey Grenache, which fans out into a glycerol like sweetness, that is never sweet, but instead nervy and juicy, licoricey and dry, full but fresh. From here it gets chewy, with a lingering sweet jube-meets game aftertaste. Long and very bright with quite soft tannins.
In a nutshell? It’s a plain delicious, savoury, ripe and meaty Barossa Valley red. I was amazed at how drinkable it was already. Buy it and drink it. Yum 18.6/94