A relook at the 2012 Tolpuddle Pinot and a chat with Michael Hill Smith MW
It’s always a pleasure to retry a contentious wine, and last night saw the opportunity to retry the 2012 Tolpuddle Pinot (a little context about the Tolpuddle wines here), which really seems to be quite divisive (compare these reviews versus these). Better still, I had Shaw + Smith co-founder Michael Hill Smith MW sitting next to me to answer the tricky questions.
What seems to be the sticking point for many is that stemmy, faintly green edge. Although just 30% whole bunches were included in the ferment, there is no question that there is a sappiness (particularly on the nose) here that is directly attributable to the stem inclusion.
Personally, I didn’t find such a character a turn-off last night, and it certainly didn’t offend when I first tasted it. Moreso the stems look to be a valid part of the formula, with nothing unbalanced (to my mind at least) and I liked the wine, perhaps even more than last time around (and much more than the standard Shaw + Smith Pinot which looked simple and flat).
I asked Michael what he thought about the stemminess criticisms and he believes that this would be half the wine without them – the stems giving tannins and form to what is otherwise a quite juicy wine, taking the quality up to another level.
Beyond talk of stems and Pinot, the joy of dinner with Michael Hill Smith is his charming honesty. He may be Australia’s first Master of Wine, yet you never feel the condescension that can plague some MW’s.
I quizzed him about about the role of Sauvignon Blanc (it ‘helps pay for wineries’) what he’s going to do for his 60th birthday later this year (not retire, that’s for sure) and about what’s next for Shaw + Smith (Adam Wadewitz has been working on a funky, leesy Bordeaux Blanc blend for one. Oh and they’ve just purchased a new vineyard at Lenswood).
If only more MW’s were as entertaining…