A Shaw thing
(The tone here is more ‘lifestyle’ print media focused than other posts, an approach I feel I almost have to apologise for. The sentiment is absolutely honest though).
It’s hard work being an Australian Sauvignon Blanc producer.
Not only are 1 in 2 bottles of white wines consumed in Australia now made in New Zealand (making Australian white wines a lesser majority for the first time in recent history), but the dominance of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc has forced Australian Sauv makers to change their wines all together.
For examples of this, witness only the proliferation of (delicious) oaked, textural ‘we take our Sauvignon directions from France’ styled Sauvignon Blancs that have come out in recent times, led by wines like De Bortoli’s Reserve Sauvignon and the Mitchell Harris Fumé Blanc alongside the more established labels like Domaine A’s ‘Lady A’ or Geoff Weaver’s Ferus.
One Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc producer really doesn’t need to bother reinventing their Sauvignon wheel. Indeed, they can’t keep up with supply as it is.That producer is Shaw & Smith and, with the 2012 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, they have shown that the secret to making quality Sauvignon Blanc lie in the attention to detail.
Said attentiveness naturally starts in the vineyard – unlike many equivalent producers from across the Tasman, the yields are kept deliberately lower on the Shaw & Smith estate and grower vineyards, a move which ultimately delivers flavour concentration and density. They also hand prune the vines and hand harvest the grapes, a process that drives up production costs but also leads to more consistently higher quality fruit making its way the winery.
Speaking of high quality fruit, whilst the focus of Shaw & Smith’s new releases is undoubtedly the Sauv Blanc, the wine that I would most like to have in my cellar is the new 2010 Shaw & Smith Shiraz. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate in calling it the best Shiraz to appear under this label, showing the sort of peppery, meaty aromatics that you’d expect to see in something from Cornas in France’s Northern Rhone but with the sort of polish I expect from Shaw & Smith.
Not only is this Shiraz well made, well packaged and damn tasty it is also very well priced at just $42 from the winery website (shawandsmith.com).It isn’t just the Shiraz and Sauv that look good this vintage either, with the 2010 Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay right up there with the best releases under the label, carrying a balance between power and refreshment that typifies what makes modern Australian Chardonnay.
Perhaps the only blip on the Shaw & Smith horizon is 2010 Shaw & Smith Pinot Noir which, for mine, looks just a little simple and jubey to be really enjoyable. Given that this is the first ever Pinot Noir under the Shaw & Smith ‘estate’ label it’s probably not surprising to see it looking a little one-dimensional to begin with.
Putting the Pinot aside then there is no hiding the glory of these new Shaw & Smith releases. Top class wines at very fair prices, made with genuine care and attention. A shaw thing?
Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Carries its varietal character from the outset does this wine, the nose all varietal gooseberry and grapefruit. The palate is zippy, vinous and has a fleshy melon edge to it. Generous, yet retains its acid crunch. Really good modern Sauv and a very good vintage for this label. Not profound but perfect for what it is. 17.7/20 92/100
Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
The best thing about this wine? Every sniff, every sip the wine changes. That is a mark of an intriguing wine in my books and this does it well. It’s all black and white pepper, pan juices and redcurrant on the nose, with both fruit and spicy meaty edges. The palate is, wonderfully, properly tannic, the flavours bold and ripe yet still properly even and ripe. It’s a little warm through the finish and perhaps a fraction too polished, but the length, the hint of regional eucalpyt and the sturdy acidity are top class. I like the hint of sausage through the finish too, a dose of wildness that keeps you coming back. What’s more, this Shiraz is only going to get better in the bottle too. Yes. 18.7/20 95/100
(I’d like to see an even wilder version of this wine, just to see how it looks. No fining, no filtration, longer maceration and no fear. Mr Smith, Mr Shaw, Mr LeMire – how about it? A little 50 dozen trial lot?).
Shaw + Smith Pinot Noir 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very attractive wine. It’s full of glossy, super soft raspberry pie fleshiness, the fruit just a little too plump and generous to be classical. Pleasant and fun, its going to be even better in time, just looks a little simple for the moment. 16.8/20 89/100+