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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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You get what you pay for – and this is worth it

I spend a lot of time looking for wines at the cheaper end of the budget.

I work on the premise that it is very easy to buy good expensive wines, but finding cheaper, good quality ones can often be very difficult.

So this week I thought I would have a look at one of those producers who are firmly at the more expensive end of the scale.

The company I am thinking of is Shaw and Smith from the Adelaide Hills area of Australia.

Shaw+Smith began over a long lunch in 1989 when cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith decided to realise a long-held dream to make wine together.

This seems the way that most things are done in Australia; no real decision making can be done before lunch is served and the best decisions generally after the sweet wine are only a distant memory!

They now specialise in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, cool climate Shiraz and Pinot Noir and, believe me, they are probably two of the best wine makers in Australia, if not the Southern Hemisphere. So why are they so successful?

My initial reaction was their choice of area. Adelaide Hills is regarded as a cool climate.

Located in the Mt Lofty Ranges, 30 minutes drive from Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills form a narrow corridor 70 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide.

The undulating topography offers a wide diversity of vineyard sites. The elevation varies from around 400 metres at Macclesfield, to 600 metres at Piccadilly and 700 metres at Mt Lofty.

This region is strikingly beautiful with its patchwork of vineyards, forests, beef and dairy farms, apple and pear orchards.

The Barossa Valley is to the north and McLaren Vale to the south. It is considerably cooler with temperatures some four degrees cooler during the day and eight degrees at night than the surrounding area.

This gives them a fabulous start with the highest quality fruit possible, but I was missing the point.

You only have to look at the background of these two guys.

Martin Shaw is an internationally regarded wine maker who set up the Flying Winemaker network covering France, Spain, Chile and New Zealand. Martin is also consulting for a number of Australian companies.

Michael Hill Smith is an international wine judge and in 2008 was awarded an Order of Australia for his contribution to the country’s wine industry. Oh, he was also the first Australian to become a Master of Wine. Two very talented guys!

We stock their M3 Chardonnay which could be one of the best Chardonnays in the world.

The 2010 vintage was a very low yield and gave intense flavours and good levels of acidity; beautiful flavours of stone fruit citrus and cashew, but it is the long luxurious finish where the quality lies.

It is astounding, and for a wine in the £25 bracket this seriously rivals top Burgundy at £10 more.

We have a small amount of their 2009 Adelaide Hills Shiraz. It has been said in the past that it was too cold to produce Shiraz in the Adelaide Hills. Here is proof that Shiraz works very well here. Instead of the typical peppery fruit bomb that some producers go for, we have subtlety and well defined fruit.

Again in the £25 bracket it should be good, I hear you say.

Both these iconic wines are definitely ones for a special occasion.

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