Met with Michael Hill-Smith today at the shiny new Liberty Wine offices in Clapham, to taste the latest releases of Shaw & Smith.
For me, this is one of Australia’s leading wineries. They make just four wines, all of which are excellent, from the cool-ish climate Adelaide Hills region in South Australia.
The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is fresh, focused and sophisticated, with a lovely pink grapefruit character. This is made in reasonable quantities (in excess of 20 000 cases, although Michael isn’t happy to divulge the exact figure), and is so popular it funds the rest of the operation. Michael reports that there is no slackening of interest in Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2012 M3 Chardonnay isn’t released yet, but it is a cracker. So taut, fresh and pure with amazing intensity and precision. This will be a truly great wine in time, and I’d cellar it with confidence. Since the winery went all screwcap in 2005, none of the Chardonnays are showing any signs of tiredness, and their ageing window seems to have increased.
Pinot Noir is a relatively new venture here. The challenge is to supplement the lovely pure, sweet fruit that the Adelaide Hills delivers with some non-fuit complexity. The 2010 vintage is on the right lines: it’s supple, elegant and shows sweet cherry fruit, along with some herby, sappy green, undergrowth notes. It’s drinking very well now, and has more than a hint of seriousness, but I suspect that Michael and Martin are looking for a little more from this wine.
I just love the 2010 Shiraz. I like it so much that, when given the option, I took this bottle home to drink. I have just finished it. There’s lovely black cherry and plum fruit, but also lovely savoury complexity, with some fennel seed, clove and pepper character. It’s a wine that’s easy to drink, but which also repays attention. This is pretty serious stuff.