The recent release of Shaw + Smith 2021 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and of 2020 Shiraz, caused me to find elements of Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, chess, and jigsaw puzzles. Since 1989 cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW have woven a tapestry of exceptional complexity, starting with a virtual winery (a corner in Petaluma’s winery) and a contract to purchase chardonnay and sauvignon blanc grapes sufficient to make 2500 dozen of each wine.
Gandalf’s shadowy presence helped these bits and pieces move on, in particular the Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc. Some years ago Michael Hill Smith recounted what he described as the incredible brand loyalty the wine generated, adding ‘to keep the brand fresh, we haven’t done the same things every year, but the changes have been incremental.’ A Frodo-like explanation.
In the bigger picture there have been major developments spread over the 33 years, a progressively expanded winery, planting or, in the case of the 20ha Lenswood vineyard, purchasing it and its dowry of chardonnay ad pinot noir. Looking to the future, a 5.6ha vineyard in Piccadilly is being planted to chardonnay and pinot noir by Shaw + Smith. Hot off the press is the acquisition of a $500,000 AI machine to spray the ultra close-spaced vines on ultra steep slopes.
The structure of the business begins with the five persons who now have over 55 persons reporting to them. Michael Hill Smith MW and Martin Shaw are respectively owner and co-founder; David LeMire MW global head of sales and marketing and joint CEO; Adam Wadewitz is chief winemaker and joint CEO; and Murray Leake is group viticulturist.
In these days of executives of well-performing businesses receiving seriously large amounts to jump ship, future planning is essential. So it was that Michael, Martin, Adam and David formed a syndicate (MMAD) to purchase an old 18.5ha vineyard in Blewitt Springs planted with old vine shiraz, grenache and chenin blanc.
2021 Shaw + Smith M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay
Hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, fermented and matured in French oak. Its crystal clear quartz-green hue signals the ’21 vintage in all its glory, the bouquet and palate a seamless array of nectarine, grapefruit and cashew. The feel and flow of the aftertaste implore a second glass.
97 points, drink to 2030, 13% alc, Screwcap, $55
2021 Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Already a seriously complex pinot, high-strung aromas of spice and forest floor providing the parameters of a palate that builds intensity as it moves from red and blue fruits towards the triumphant Peacock’s Tail finish.
97 points, drink to 2031, 13.5% alc, Screwcap, $55
2020 Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz
A wine of towering richness and complexity, black cherries, licorice, black pepper. Close your eyes, and this shiraz will give you a magic carpet ride to the upper reaches of the Rhone Valley. Most remarkable is the freshness of the wine, and the dark spices of a night time drink.
97 points, drink to 2040, 14% alc, Screwcap, $55