We see a lot of Michael Hill-Smith MW in Singapore, here regularly for marathon tastings with Singapore Airlines as part of their wine panel. There is also his annual release of Shaw & Smith wines with a tried and tested formula of an informal tasting of the new releases with Dim Sum, religiously attended by trade for both libation and appreciation of his penetrating candidacy on the wines and insightful words on Australian wine industry.
Indeed, he was in good form at Jade Palace, announcing the 2011 for Shaw & Smith was a shocker! Affirming his frank assessment of the vintage he went on to say that vignerons have a tendency to talk up every year, with the quip “It’s the greatest vintage we have ever had, since last year”.
Not Hill-Smith, as painful as it was to their livelihood, he declared Shaw & Smith chardonnay production in 2011 is only 10% of what they normally produce and they made no shiraz. He went on to say the vintage was decidedly cool with the Adelaide Hills largely affected by the inclement weather and storms in North Eastern Australia manifesting in a stubbornly cool and humid lengthy period resulting in vine disease and ripening problems. Read full vintage report at http://blog.shawandsmith.com/2011/05/09/vintage-report-shaw-smith-2011/
His refreshing commentary was punctuated with the erudite rationale, the 2011 vintage for us (Shaw & Smith) serves as a brilliant illustration of how cool the climates actually are in regions like the Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley etc, and dispels the popular notion Australian vintages have no variance or perpetually warm and sunny.
The bad news out of the way, he turned his attention to the 2011 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, which was indeed a ‘VINTAGE YEAR’ for this variety, with the drawn out cool weather promoting a long, slow ripening period and extended “hang-time”, drawing on an Americanism that marketers like to use in emphasizing the concentration of grape flavours.
I have no hesitation in saying Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc is the benchmark of this variety in Australia moreover a flag carrier globally in terms of promoting Australian crisp, cool-climate whites and listed in the best restaurants throughout the world.
My note on the 2011 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc reads:
Alluring perfume of pink guava and passion fruit amongst a sherbet of tropical fruits and herbs – melon, pomelo (grapefruit-like), zesty lime, lemongrass, nettley Laksa leaf and white pepper spice, fresh ginger – with a hint of snow pea and an intriguing red currant nuance and lingering cool minerality. Zingy and mouth-watering palate entry with an explosion of intense grapefruit and passion fruit and a tantalizing charge of lemon/citrus across the palate; textbook Shaw & Smith taught style, focused, racy with impressive carry and length of flavour. Totally refreshing and screaming out drink me now and so suited to a gambit of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. The sort of wine you buy several cases of with a few bottle in the fridge at all times, and forget all that bitch diesel from Marlborough, this wine runs rings around it.
We also tried the new release Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz from the 2009 vintage, to which I will review separately, along with some unpublished notes on 2008. I will however say, I would be getting on to your Shaw & Smith importer real quick to secure some of their silky-soft, wonderfully charming and deliciously drinkable Pinot Noir 2009, and equally imperative you put some of the spice-laden svelte Shiraz 2009 in the cellar.
Singapore consumers can purchase through Monopole, www.monopole.com.sg
Read more on Shaw & Smith at www.shawandsmith.com
I have also written extensively on Shaw & Smith, follow the links: