In 1989, Shaw + Smith was established by cousins Michael Hill-Smith and Martin Shaw. Michael was the first Australian to achieve the title of ‘Master of Wine’, one of the most highly regarded wine qualifications in the world; to put it in perspective, there are only (as of 2019) 382 ‘Masters of Wine’. Martin is a winemaker who studied at Roseworthy College in Adelaide and the University of Bordeaux, having worked extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain and Chile. The wines are made exclusively from two vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, Balhannah and Lenswood, with a total of 55ha. Grapes grown there are Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and Chardonnay, with the first vintage being released in 1990. Up until 1999, wines were made ‘virtually’, at Petaluma and Wirra Wirra, until their impressive winery and cellar door were built in time for the 2000 vintage. The wines are made by Adam Wadewitz, who has compiled vintages internationally, making a name for himself at ‘Seppelts’ and ‘Best’s’ in Great Western, Victoria, the latter being where he made the 2012 ‘Jimmy Watson Trophy winner.
‘Shaw + Smith’ make a range of wines at different price points. The ‘Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc’ is a light yet supple wine, with intense flavours and refreshing acidity. The ‘Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir’ has superb red fruits on the nose and palate, with vibrant acidity and a succulent finish. The ‘Balhannah Vineyard Shiraz’ is a stunning, yet powerful wine with bay leaf and red fruits on the nose, and fine tannins, featuring plump red fruit and spicy pepper on the palate, a long finish, which drinks well on release and for more than 15 years afterwards.
A behemoth of a state, South Australia is responsible for over 50% of Australia’s wine production. With the first known planting here taking place in 1836, local vintners have had time to truly perfect their art. In fact, SA is also home to some of the oldest Shiraz vines on the planet, with around 38% of SA’s old vines being Shiraz.
Such a large area means that the terrain, climate and soil profiles vary immensely between regions, allowing for a vast array of varieties to thrive. Some of South Australia’s premier wine regions include; Barossa Valley, Mclaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and the Adelaide hills. Such a collection of prime wine regions has earned South Australia the grand title of Australia’s Wine Capital. But it doesn’t stop there, the prowess of SA wine producers mixed with fantastic growing conditions has garnered the state the privilege of being dubbed one of the 9 Great Wine Capitals of the World.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Europe was ravaged by an outbreak of Phylloxera, an aphid that injects a venom into the root of the vine while sucking out sap. The effect of the outbreak vastly influenced the global market. For example, France’s wine output decreased by over 40%, with the whole ordeal costing the country over 10 billion francs. Luckily for all, the grand ‘down-under’ remained a wine wonder, as the blight couldn’t take flight and reach the far away lands.