Cleverly, the Shaw + Smith team do laps of the country at this time each year, matching up the latest release of their renowned Sauvignon Blanc and matched with yum cha.
While mid-July is usually freezing cold – hardly Sauv Blanc weather – it’s become a real annual event on the calendar, even though I seem to have the flu every time. This year the Shaw + Smith yum cha roadshow even heads to Darwin, a location where they (apparently) really love the Sauv.
While the just-released 2016 Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc was obviously the focal point of Monday’s duck pancake fest (and I’ll have a closer look at shortly), it was two new single vineyard wines that stole the show.
Michael Hill Smith MW explains the context:
‘(It’s a big) move for us to do single site wines; though they’re quite the fashion these days. We felt with both of these wines that they deserve to bottled off as single batch’.
Hence, two very serious (and seriously priced) new wines were born.
Oh and do you like the label? Jancis Robinson reputedly mistook them for pre-bottling labels originally, convincing the team to add some red highlighting.
As soon as I spotted this duo I ignored everything else, which means I didn’t get much of a look at the rest of the new S+ S wines. Will need to revisit. In the meantime, with volumes of this pair rather low (especially given the Shaw + Smith reach), I’d be making a beeline now if you want to try ’em.
Oh and there is always the temptation when presented with two high quality wines in a range to score them differently, almost as if it’s lazy not too. I could see the merits of both these wines, even if they’re at different stages (the Chardonnay needs more time in bottle), hence the similar scores.
Shaw + Smith Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay 2014
The first single vineyard release from the 25yo vineyard that Shaw + Smith purchased at Lenswood. According to Michael Hill Smith this wine ‘started pretty quiet’ and is ‘only just starting to go up a notch’. There is a move away from barriques for this wine and into larger oak. Seems to work. $85 RRP and circa 130 cases produced. Milky leesy oak and some sulphide banana in there, the nose high toned and very tight. Ditto the palate, which starts gently before fanning out into lemon cream. The acid is somewhat of a full stop, but it’s not harsh, just firm and grapefruity. High quality; if super tight wine in every way. Masterful milky lees and oak, the elements all there for glory. Gee this is going to win some hearts and minds. Reservations about the acidity for the moment, but that should resolve in time. High high quality wine, and should be even better than the Shiraz in 12-18 months time. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 18.5/20, 94/100+.
Shaw + Smith Balhannah Vineyard Shiraz 2014
From a block behind the winery planted in 2005 at a very high density – 5500 vines/hectare. Again, this was matured in more big oak. 70% whole bunches in the ferment too, and that’s going to be divisive. The stems make a statement on the nose, contributing to a whole melting pot of aromatics featuring tomato juice, anise, soy and black fruit. There’s stem influence on the palate too, the red fruit punctuated by lovely black tea tannins. This feels special; masterful, and long. Maybe a little warm to finish is about the only qualm. Real intrigue regardless. Best drinking: 2016-2025. 18.5/20, 94/100.