From Viognier with a sense of humour to Mataro with a cigar-smoking chanteuse attitude and tickle of feather boa – four fine wines from Barossa-based winemaker Tim Smith.
Tim Smith Wines Eden Valley Viognier 2013
$28; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Forget about Viognier always smelling overtly of apricots. I sliced a red capsicum open, put a sliver of fresh ginger root and one broken clove in it with a few specks of white pepper, and got pretty damn close to the fragrance of this beauty. It also brought avocado to mind – it has that sort of creamy smoothness. In other words, it’s more green salad than overt fruit, and made me yearn immediately for Thai tucker. All those flavours swim around the mouth once you’ve tipped some in there, and that creaminess hangs in, giving the wine the sort of satisfying unction that would neatly balance the edgy cut of piquant Thai greens. I like Tim Smith’s forensic approach to his vineyard selection: whoever grew this knows their dots, and Tim has obviously chosen it to suit the acute gastronomic intelligence he always aims at his wines. It has just the right amount of tannin, too: a hallmark I expect of the much-misunderstood, misplanted, and poorly made Viognier. Now I’ve made it sound far too serious. This is one of the best. It has a sense of humour.
Tim Smith Wines Barossa Grenache 2012
$36; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points
Here’s a good wine to drink when you’re curious about the difference between the very best of Barossa Grenache and the style of the McLaren Vale stuff. While the clays, sands and topsoils – even the deeper underlying geology – of the regions are generally the same in composition and age, the higher background humidity of the Vales seems to guarantee softer tannins than the drier Barossa air cranks out. The best Vales wines are softer without being too plump, with lots of cherries and raspberries. This one’s more solemn and imposing, with a bit more nightshade, forge and leather. It’s more acrid, prickly and darkly foreboding. There’s plenty of deep dark fruit in the flavour division, even beetroot, with hints of licorice and juniper leading to really neat drying tannins. This one’s cut out for big field mushrooms and Portobellos and steaky things; top of the Vales models are better when you’re in veal territory, even salmon. If you’re curious about this, try this deep, dark Spanish-style loveliness against cheeky Frencher (new word meaning north-west Mediterranean coast) Yangarra, just for starters. Both lovely things, but chalk and cheese in style. While this is Tim’s first straight Grenache under his own brand, we should approach with the respect due his Chateau Tanunda The Everest Old Bush Vine Grenache 2008, which won the International Wine Trade Fair trophy for being the World’s Best Single Estate Red Wine in London. Welcome back aboard the Grenache train, Mister Smith!
Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro 2012
$36; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points
Smiffy loves the Mataro of Bandol as much as he loves his old Trumpy motorcycle and his drum kit. Bandol’s close to France’s southern-most tip, near Toulon. They call it Mourvèdre there, and make a deep and dark wine from this deep and dark variety, which grows all along that coast west into Spain, where it’s called Monastrell. If you’ve ever caught a young Bandol, before it grew its comfortable double chin, you’ll understand this wine. It still has juvenile tweaks of linseed and wintergreen, anise and fennel root among all its Bible-black coal and midnight aromas. When I inhale it, I’m lost between that scared-of-the-dark feeling and the first yearning curiosity of the black velvet unknown which drew me out into it so deep I’ve lived there for decades. And oh yes, it also smells like the lavender fields of that part of France. I’ve always thought lavender fields smell more alluring in the dark. It tastes pretty much along the same lines, with its scratchy satin black-dress cigar-smoking chanteuse attitude, and the most mischievous tickle of feather boa and black velvet tannin daring you to fall in too deep. Buy a bottle, and get straight down to pillage Smelly Cheese. Lulu will advise which fromage is best, especially if you take her a tipple.
Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2012
$28; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points
“Picked from really old vines grown by really good people,” Tim tells us on his back label. The most frivolous of these three masterful reds, it’s a carefree breeze of a drink, silky and slick and as quick as a skink. It’s mainly about texture in that sense, with that perfect balance of slime and finesse. While the other two reds are serious and sombre, maybe even slightly threatening, and worthy of five years in the dungeon, this one’s straight-out full-bore naughty, right from the start. It knows no guilt. It’ll bite you and never look back. So catch the ride and slide. It has the dry tannins to remind you of the handbrake, but that’s best forgot. Saltimbocca with capers, please. Then whizz me home in the Ferrari, attagal.
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