Team Shaw + Smith, I dip my lid.
If ever there was an advertisement for how professionalism and a search for continuous improvement can deliver ever better wines, then let it be this new trio of releases from Shaw + Smith.
Whether it’s the ‘tricky vintage. What tricky vintage?’ balance of the Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2020 or the unerring deliciousness of the Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2021. The S & S lineup of Wadewitz, Hill-Smith, Shaw, LeMire, Leake et al. are, to mangle a cricketing analogy, middling every ball, and hooking bouncers comfortably over the fence at backward leg for six (or 94 points at least).
You know what else is great? The prices, which are (in context) very fair. The same month when an $800 Yarra Cabernet (from undisclosed plots) breaks ground, you have these provenance-first, benchmark S + S wines as a direct contrast for less than $60 a bottle from the Shaw + Smith cellar door.
Yeah, you know what I’d be buying…
Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2020
My pick of the trio and what a great drink. Includes 40% whole bunches. 14 months in 1/3rd new French oak. An evocative smelling thing it is too – whole bunch cinnamon spice, red and blue fruits, a whisper of charcuterie and then a ripple of blueberry crumble. The medium bodied palate is finessed and yet ripe and plush, all at once, the alcohol even lobbing in some warmth though not intrusive. That palate is just so impressive – it’s inviting and plush and so perfect. Compelling in its balance and flavour. Maybe a little light on the tannins is the only criticism. Absolute top-flight Shiraz.
Best drinking: now and for the next decade, no probs. 18.7/20, 95/100. 14%, $55. Would I buy it? Definitely.
Shaw + Smith Pinot Noir 2021
After many vintages of either a) edging too far into dry red territory or b) flopping back the other way and looking too lean. But his vintage, like the last couple, is just excellent. The best I can remember. Fruit source has been an important change, with the backbone of this Pinot now Lenswood fruit. What a lovely wine it is too – bright ruby coloured, a little purple even. Great nose – it’s varietal, it’s delicate, it’s red-fruited and raspberried and fresh. There is flashes of vanilla bean oak. The mid-palate is the driver here – it’s almost Grenache like in its glossy red fruit. Excellent balance through the finish – just enough acidity, just enough tannins. Sound the bugles, this is a fucking triumph.
Best drinking: now and over the next five or so for the best time. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.5%, $55. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2021
Released too early, which is the only blight. Otherwise, this is another super vintage for one of the country’s most consistently concise and high quality Chardonnay wines. Sliced white peach, a lemon cordial acidity thing, then acidity that is mouthwatering. Clay powder oak, lemon citrus. Power. Very firm. Very classic. It feels graceful if pre-pubescent, and that’s the only thing sliding it from top gold to just gold. Come back next year for the full kit and kaboodle of flavours as this is an A1 vintage. It just needs patience.
Best drinking: from next year. Then for a good five to eight years. 18.5/20, 94/100+. 13%, $55. Would I buy it? Sure would.