In this Interview Series #5, we chat with Senior Winemaker, Matt Large, who joined the Shaw + Smith team in September 2020. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager, speaks with Matt about his winemaking career and the upcoming 2021 vintage.
Matt, can you tell us a little about your winemaking career thus far and what inspired a career in the industry?
I didn’t come from a winemaking family, but my father was always interested in wine and I have distinct memories as a child of visiting cellar doors; my parents holding wine dinners for friends and family; and me absorbing their interest and excitement about wine and sharing it with others. In terms of my career, I’m passionate about viticulture as well as winemaking. In fact, I think it’s impossible to separate the two, and immediately before Shaw + Smith, I was running vineyards and making high-altitude Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Shadowfax winery in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. I have also spent a few years of my career over in Barolo, Italy. I was lucky enough to work vintage with Francesco Versio at Figli Luigi Oddero in 2017 and then stayed on as the Vintage Assistant Winemaker. Coming to Shaw + Smith and having the ability to work with such amazing vineyards and such a great team has been fantastic. Our new Piccadilly Vineyard project in the Hills is incredibly exciting stuff, as is the continued work down at the Tolpuddle Vineyard in Tasmania, so I’m keen to be a part of that and see the next chapter unfold.
What does the average day in the Shaw + Smith cellar look like for you?
The great thing about winemaking is that every day is different. The only thing that doesn’t change is our morning coffee and chat. Every day we meet around the coffee machine at 7:50am and talk about what’s ahead and make a plan for whatever needs to get done. Right now, we are getting the last couple of wines ready for bottling before vintage 2021, in particular, the M3 Chardonnay and Tolpuddle Pinot Noir. That means emptying all the barrels of their wine and blending them together in tank to rest before bottling. In a few weeks’ time, the days will look very different as the new vintage of fruit will be getting picked and coming into the winery, and the place will be full of grapes and ferments, and the barrels will be getting filled again. It’s a busy time, and I’ll definitely be needing that morning coffee then!
How are the early forecast for vintage 2021 shaping up, and what excites you most about your first vintage at Shaw + Smith?
Things are looking great for the 2021 vintage. We had really good winter and early spring rainfall here in the Hills which replenished soil moisture and perfectly set up the growing season to follow. Since then, things have been progressing nicely so everyone is gearing up for a great harvest. Down in Tassie it is much the same, and the Tolpuddle Vineyard is looking stellar as we head towards veraison and the critical last couple of months of ripening. What I’m excited about with this first vintage is seeing fruit in the winery from our different vineyards and varieties in the Hills - there is so much intricate variation within our sites in terms of soil, aspect and micro-climate and I can’t wait to see that through from the fruit stage first-hand.
Lastly, is there a particular wine you turn to after a long day in the cellar?
Things in the cellar can be pretty hectic at times, especially during vintage. It’s important to take the time to take stock and reflect on the day, the season and the work ahead. Personally, I think the Tolpuddle Chardonnay is a wine that really forces you to slow down and contemplate the beauty and complexity that can be found in wine. What’s more, its minerality and focused coil of acidity are incredibly refreshing and invigorating. The Tolpuddle Vineyard is a pretty special place and I feel pretty lucky to be able to come back to a glass of that after a long day in the cellar.
The Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River Valley, Tasmania was purchased by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW in 2011. The climate is cool and dry - ideal conditions to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of exceptional quality. The fruit is carefully transported to the Shaw + Smith winery and made onsite in the Adelaide Hills. Tolpuddle Wines can be purchased here.
With Christmas fast approaching, we have compiled a list of gift ideas that our team love. While Christmas is about togetherness, we still want to gift something special and considered. We hope that you find these ideas useful or inspirational.
Friday Table Gift Voucher $240 per person, buy
Come behind the scenes at Shaw + Smith with our Friday Table, a hosted tour of our winery and vineyard followed by a comprehensive tutored tasting including current releases, limited and single site wines, then a two course lunch.
The Champagne Guide 2020-21 by Tyson Stelzer $59, buy
“Tyson Stelzer’s annual Champagne Guide is essential for anyone with a keen interest in Champagne. Nothing comes close to it in terms of detail, currency or depth.” Michael Hill Smith MW
Africola by Duncan Welgemoed $49.99, buy
This highly anticipated book by Duncan Welgemoed features bold and exciting recipes, inspired by his South African heritage, from his award winning South Australian restaurant Africola.
Code38 P-Type Pro Wine Knife from $455, buy
For the wine lover who has everything, the new P-Type professional series is the Stradivarius of wine knives. A truly beautiful tool.
2018 Lenswood Vineyard Pinot Noir, gift boxed $93 + delivery, buy
In the words of David Sly: This is a model of winemaking restraint, allowing the vineyard to speak, with fleshy cherry and hint of tart mandarin providing a comforting tone, but its firm acidity and ripe, stalky grip ensuring good discipline is maintained in the shape and structure of a svelte flavour profile. 97 Points.
Brian Hirst Wine Decanter from $250 + delivery, buy
A leading figure in the Australian studio glass movement for more than 40 years, Brian Hirst creates distinctive hand blown decanters of deceptively simple form. His Penguin decanter is a favourite of sommeliers Australia wide.
Champagne Republic Limited Edition Print from $208 + delivery, buy
Signed, limited edition giclée prints on fine art paper by artist Belinda Aucott. A favourite among the Shaw + Smith crew is the ‘2005 Louis Roederer Cristal Muselet’.
Mould Cheese Collective monthly cheese subscription $75, buy
Four unique, curated, artisan cheeses delivered to your door every month. Featuring a mix of styles, milks and regions from some of the best cheese producers in the country. Ships Australia wide.
2020 Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 375ml bottle, available in 3 bottle gift packs from $51 + delivery, buy
Your favourite Sauvignon Blanc is now available in half bottles. The 2020 has all the hallmarks of a cool season; floral and pink grapefruit aromas, intensity and texture on the palate and bright, lifted acidity. Just add a straw! Build your own 3 bottle gift pack. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz half bottles also available.
Tyson Stelzer is one of Australia’s most respected and prolific wine writers. In addition to tasting and reviewing thousands of wines each year, Tyson also specialises in Champagne, and is among the world’s foremost experts in the field. Here are five of Tyson’s top picks for summer!
Louis Roederer et Philippe Starck Brut Nature Rosé 2012
Louis Roederer’s inspired (and more than courageous) ‘infusion’ method of rosé cofermentation produces a soft, silky harmony like nothing else. The inaugural Philippe Starck Rosé has an altogether distinct mood to everything to emerge from this hallowed house to date, fusing juiciness and spiciness with tension like never before. A masterful triumph and downright delicious.
Bollinger PN VZ15 NV
A bright new star has arisen from deep within the pinot noir firmament. Departing Bollinger’s home on the southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims, the house tactically jumped over the hill to the cooler northern aspect of the fabled grand cru of Verzenay in the warm 2015 vintage. Glittering, crystalline energy brilliantly contrasts the exacting pinot noir DNA that is Bollinger.
Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2008
Categorically the finest Billecart Vintage yet, this is a cuvée of laser line and immortal structure that rejoices in the lightning energy of 2008 and the exacting precision engineering of the house. A cuvée to age for at least another 20 years (and it will easily live for 50). In sheer, breathtaking purity, monumental chalk minerality and endless longevity, this is one of the champagne buys of the decade.
Krug Grande Cuvée Edition 168 NV
Krug is older and more complex than ever, its latest iteration a blend of 198 wines from 11 vintages from 2012 back to 1996. And yet it is the most profound declaration of the grand contradiction that is Krug: brighter, paler and fresher than any Grande Cuvée I can recall! Purity and focus lift it to heights not achieved since the epic 2008 base in Edition 164.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008
One of the most anticipated releases of the decade, the fabled Comtes 2008 has finally reached our shores. A frothing core of salt minerality bores to the depths of Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the most mineral of sparkling crus in the known universe. With breathtaking precision, zen-like focus and unmitigated drive,
This month we’re highlighting our 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Pinot Noir and pairing it to a tasty dish from one of our long-time favourite Melbourne dining establishments, Coda Bar & Restaurant. Coda has been a Melbourne laneway institution since it came on to the scene over ten years ago. The Sang Choi Bao has been on the menu since day one, in the form of Quail or Duck. You can interchange the protein as you wish.
This dish is packed with flavour and juiciness, with sweetness from the Chinese sausage, gaminess and umami flavours from the meat and mushrooms and some saltiness that is courtesy of the dressing. It screams for good Pinot Noir.
Our 2018 Lenswood Vineyard, only the second release of this wine, provides this; with powerful aromatics and fragrance that is loaded with red fruits, florals and spice. The palate has impressive volume, fruit sweetness and tannin, whilst showing softness, restraint and delicacy. The red fruit and sweet spice flavour profile and mid-weight flavour intensity will pair perfectly with this dish.
Quail (or Duck) Lettuce Delight with lup cheong, shitake mushroom, coriander and water chestnuts
6 iceberg lettuce leaves, trimmed to form cups
1 lup cheong Chinese sausage, finely diced in to tiny cubes
4 spring onions, sliced into rounds
1 brown onion, finely diced
4 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated
6 water chestnuts, finely diced
10 sprigs coriander, picked and washed
200g quail meat, minced
15g corn flour
Sea salt, just a pinch
1 free range egg
100ml light soy sauce
40ml Shao sing cooking wine
25ml oyster sauce
5ml sesame oil
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
Rehydrate your shitake mushrooms by placing in a separate bowl and covering with very hot to boiling water and resting for 20 minutes.
In a third (medium) sized bowl, mix the water, corn flour, salt and egg together. Then add the minced qual (or duck).
Using a hot wok, fry the quail mixture until it is caramelized and fluffy.
Add the lup cheong, spring onions, brown onion, mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook until the onions are cooked through and giving strong aromatics.
Remove from the heat and season with the dressing and coriander leaves.
Divide the mixture evenly into the lettuce cups and serve immediately.
In this Interview Series #4, we speak with Kavita Faiella, Sommelier and Sales + Marketing Manager at Shaw + Smith. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager spoke to Kavita about what led her to the world of wine and what she’ll be pouring during the festive season.
Can you tell us a little about how you started working as a Sommelier?
I started working in restaurants in Sydney whilst I was studying at university. I worked for restauranteur Tim Connell and chef Stefano Manfredi at both Coast and Manta. It was the first time I had experienced working in restaurants with sommeliers and was pretty impressed that there was a person whose job it was to look after the wine side of things. I had grown up eating in more simple Greek, Lebanese and Indian restaurants with my family, so the whole world of wine and its service was new to me. I looked into how you became a sommelier and somehow convinced Tim to set me up on what I called a sommeliership, similar to a chef apprenticeship and I went to TAFE one day a week and worked in the restaurants full time. I loved how much there was to learn about wine and that I could learn something one day and put it into practise in the restaurant immediately. Unlike what I was studying at university, that seemed years away from ever being a reality. So, I made decision to differ from university and commit fully to being a wine professional. I haven’t ever looked back.
When did you realise you could make a career in the wine industry?
Right from the time I knew being a sommelier was a career, I thought it was a great job. For me personally, the opportunities that being a sommelier could bring became a reality when I was working in the Maldives as the head sommelier of the Conrad property and was offered roles at both the French Laundry in California and The Fat Duck in the UK, two of the best restaurants in the world at the time. It made me realise that this was a job that allowed me to not only do what I love and work with something I'm passionate about, but to also travel the world and experience living in other countries.
Do you remember the first time a wine really blew you away?
It's never about just what’s in the glass for me, I am equally as interested in the story of the place it comes from, the people that made it and the journey the wine has taken to get the table it is being opened at. Perhaps that comes from having worked in a number of pretty unique places throughout my career from the Maldives to Bhutan and everywhere in between. It always amazed me, that we could be drinking the very same wine, so far away from the place it was made. My fondest memory of this realisation, was when I was visiting Piedmont for the first time, I had an appointment with one of my favourite producers, Elio Altare - it was the first time I had met him and his daughter Silvia. At the time I was working in the Maldives and always brought a brochure of the resort so that winemakers could see exactly where their wines had travelled to. As we flicked through the pages, I could see that Elio was getting quite emotional and was wiping away tears, Silvia asked if he was ok, he responded that he was fantastico, and explained that as first generation winemaker from a small town in Northern Italy he had only ever hoped that his wines would be popular in his own country and to see them being enjoyed in countries all around the world, some that he would never visit himself, was very special. I have always taken great pride that as a sommelier, one of our fundamental roles is to be the conduit of so many wineries around the world, where we are able to introduce people to not just the wines, but even more so, the stories of those who make them and the places they come from.
Today I get to do that with Shaw + Smith, as I travel around the country and the world, telling people about the Adelaide Hills and our amazing team that make them.
What mistakes do people most often make when pairing wines with food?
They overcomplicate it. If there is a food you love and wine you love, even if they are technically not well matched, you will still enjoy eating and drinking them together. A simple tip that works well for pairing is to pay attention to the colour of both the wine and dish. Take chicken for example, if its poached and light in colour it will more than likely pair best with a light white such as young Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc, once it has been roasted or fried, and takes on a deeper colour, a more full bodied white like Chardonnay would work better, and if you add a darker sauce such as a gravy, then a light red becomes a great partner. I love drinking Pinot Noir with raw tuna as an example of a perfect match both in colour and on the palate.
Which Shaw + Smith wines will you be enjoying during the festive season?
Given that come Christmas this year, I'll be 8 months pregnant, it might be slightly less vinous this year. We’re lucky at our house though, my cousin is also a sommelier, so there is always lots of delicious wine being splashed around the table. That being said, I will be sure to open up some of the newly released Lenswood Pinot Noir for everyone, it's in such a great drinking window at the moment, perfect for summer and cold Christmas ham straight out of the fridge!
It's usually this time of year where we are feeling inundated with friends' photos and stories of recent travels to Europe over the summer.
2020 has proved to be the opposite, and we are now seriously craving the beaches of the Amalfi Coast and islands of Greece, so we thought we would bring a little bit of Greek sunshine to your dining table.
Spinach Pie, or spanakopita as it is known in Greece, is an everyday staple that can be part of the mezze spread, eaten as a snack or as a main course, with some Greek salad of course!
Wild greens also are an important part of the Greek diet, particularly in the mountainous north. Frequently a spanakopita in Greece won’t have any spinach at all in it, but rather a collection of other greens such as nettles, sorrel, silverbeet etc.
Our friends at The Apollo in Sydney have kindly shared with us their delicious recipe for spanakopita or Wild Weed and Cheese pie, as it is named on their menu. The nettles in this dish work perfectly with our Sauvignon Blanc. We encourage you to crack open a bottle, throw a fresh Greek salad together and try the Apollo’s pita at home, over a relaxed Sunday lunch. You won’t regret it.
Wild Weed and Cheese Pie
1kg mixed bitter greens (such as nettles, sorrel, silver beet, chicory)
150ml extra virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Dried Greek oregano to taste
500g fresh ricotta
Salt to taste
1 cup olive oil, extra, for brushing
Plain flour for dusting
500g plain flour
225ml warm water
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
To make the filo pastry, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until they come together to form a dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.
Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Wash greens and drain. With the water still clinging to them, place in a saucepan then cover and cook over medium heat until just wilted.
Drain in a colander and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible.
Chop roughly and set aside in a bowl.
Heat 150ml of olive oil in the same saucepan and cook onions over a low heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft.
Remove from the heat and combine with greens, then add egg and oregano.
Gently stir in ricotta, season with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cut filo pastry dough in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface into a 60cm square. The pastry must be as thin as possible. Place a dinner plate over the pastry and cut a round from the centre of the pastry, then roll out and cut remaining pastry into 8 equal pieces and brush these with the extra virgin oil.
Place the 8 pieces of pastry on top of one another, top with the pastry round, dust generously with flour and roll out into a 40cm round, trimming the edges to neaten. Place this round on a 26cm pizza tray lined with baking paper. Repeat rolling, cutting and shaping with the remaining pastry half, trimming edges to make a neat 40cm round. Set aside.
Spread filling to edges of pizza tray, then fold excess pastry over filling, pleating sides as you go. Gently gather second sheet of rolled pastry with both hands and place on top of pie, allowing it to fall into folds. Brush with generous amounts of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.
In this Interview Series #3, we speak with Ashlea van Riet, designer of our summer gift box and much loved member of our Tasting Room Team. Tasting Room Manager, Alex Camatta chats to Ashlea about her career in the art and wine industries and the inspiration behind the design of the summer gift box.
Ashlea, how did your career in art begin?
Gosh, I guess I’ve always been a creative person, I think it’s in my blood! I come from a family of creatives who encouraged me to draw and paint so, ever since I can remember, art has been an integral part of my life. However I only started taking it more seriously about 8 years ago.
Can you speak to the inspiration behind the design?
The Shaw + Smith team were already quite familiar with my work, and had one of my previous artworks in mind as a source of inspiration. They liked my use of colour and more importantly texture, both of which appear in the design of this box. Personally, I heard the word “summer” and wanted to create something really fun but still on brand, which I think we have achieved.
At what point in your life did you develop an interest in wine?
Hmmm, is it bad to say it all started with enjoying a lot of it? Living in the Adelaide Hills means being surrounded by incredible wineries so it's easy to become passionate about great wine. I was married at a local winery, which is what first inspired the idea of working in wine. Then two years ago, I was lucky enough to join the Shaw + Smith Tasting Room team. I now balance my week between the art studio and the tasting room, talking about amazing wine!
It’s not often that these two worlds collide for you come together so well. How did your familiarity with the brand influence the finished product?
I definitely find myself in a unique position, and feel incredibly honoured that I was asked to design this summer gift box! I’ve been working for Shaw + Smith for two years, so I do feel as though I have a strong understanding of the brand and ethos. Working at Shaw + Smith while collaborating with the team helped to maintain constant communication throughout the design process. We worked closely together to create the final artwork.
Which wine would you be most excited to find in this gift box?
I’m a Chardonnay girl through and through and believe that Shaw + Smith make some of the best in the Hills. I’d be pretty chuffed with either a 2019 M3 Chardonnay or the 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay. Yum!
September excites us for more reasons than one. Spring beckons with open arms - a welcome relief to the winter lull – and our vineyards hail the first signs of life. It also signals some of our most exciting releases of the year, the Single Vineyard wines. What a fitting time to celebrate (just, because) and awash our glasses with Chardonnay.
It’s hard to pick a favourite child (or vintage), but the 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay is delicious. It’s poised and seductive, with lemon pith, creamed cashew and hints of pickled ginger. Elegant, but with power and concentration that renders it an excellent food match.
When looking for a restaurant partner to do this wine justice, we couldn’t go past Post, at COMO in Perth. Their pan roasted market fish with asparagus and dill mayonnaise is exceptional. In a story not dissimilar to the wine, this dish is a modern classic, where the freshest, premium local ingredients are the hero, and the composition is relatively simple. Fish aside, the creamy mayonnaise, with lemon juice and zest, is an absolute game changer with the Chardonnay.
The great news is that they have been kind enough to share their secrets.
Pan-roasted Market Fish with Asparagus and Dill Mayonnaise
4 160g snapper fillets
16 asparagus spears
1 large bunch of kale or cavolo nero
1 garlic clove, sliced
250ml good quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons baby capers
1 small bunch of dill, chopped
Finely dice cornichons and combine with the capers and mayonnaise. Add zest and juice of half the lemon, reserving the other half for later. Add chopped dill, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Lightly blanch asparagus and greens in salted water for 1 minute and strain. Toss greens in a pan with a little olive oil and the sliced garlic, then season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes until lightly sautéed. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside.
Pat snapper fillets dry and lightly season with salt and pepper. Add to a pan on medium heat with a little olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, then add a little diced butter to glaze the fish. Add remaining lemon juice to finish and remove fish from pan to rest.
To serve, place dill and caper mayonnaise on the plate, then add the sautéed greens and asparagus, followed by the fish. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
In this Interview Series #2, we chat with Murray Leake, one of the Adelaide Hills' most respected viticulturists and a highly regarded member of the team. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager, spoke with Murray about the upcoming season and the importance of site selection in wine production.
Murray, what was it that drew you to the world of viticulture?
The true answer is by accident.
As a young man I was unaware of careers in viticulture, and a chance discussion with a neighbour, who was a winemaker for Lindeman’s at the time (early 1990s), knowing that I had an interest in wine and vineyards, suggested I should study viticulture. So I did.
With Spring upon us, and coming out of a wet winter, how is the new growing season shaping up?
Rainfall during the dormant period has been good to replenish soil moisture and fill dams to capacity, which puts the vines in a good position to commence the growing season. The medium term weather forecast suggests a lower frost risk compared to the last two seasons.
Early varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are just approaching budburst, which is about normal. In around 2 weeks, when young shoots have developed and inflorescences are visible, we will be able to assess the fruitfulness, and potential yield.
Site selection has been integral to the Single Vineyard wines. What is it about our sites that make them so suited to their individual varietals?
While all of our sites in the Adelaide Hills are considered cool climate, our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks are situated on our highest altitude and coolest site, at Lenswood, and Shiraz blocks on the warmer site in Balhannah, whereas Sauvignon Blanc grapes are sourced from a wider range of sites across the Adelaide Hills.
Aspect also plays a part in site selection, with the cooler aspects being South and East. This is the aspect for the majority of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at our Lenswood vineyard, whereas Shiraz at Balhannah is on a north facing aspect.
Is there a particular wine from our Single Vineyard range that you’re enjoying right now?
The 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Pinot Noir is drinking beautifully and is stylistically unique to other Hills examples.
Over the past number of years we have changed our management practices to follow organic principles and now are certified organic in transition across both Balhannah and Lenswood vineyards. Can you talk us through this process; what are the benefits of this approach and what challenges does it present our viticulture team?
The whole transition to organic has been less challenging than first thought, and we believe this is due to our measured approach. We spent a number of years addressing soil health with multiple applications of composts, removing all herbicide, reverting to a combination of under-vine cultivation and permanent cover for weed control, as well as removing all synthetic fungicide, insecticide and fertiliser.
We believe by running our vineyards as organic we correct the balance of micro-organisms in the soil that promote nutrient cycling and availability within the soil to support vine growth, which provides inherent resistance to pest and disease. We like to compare soil health and the vine root system to the human digestive system, where microbes support nutrient breakdown and health. In this sense, soil health and biodiversity translates to vine health. Similarly, a healthy population of beneficial micro-organisms on and within the vine canopy and bunches supports vine health, as this then becomes a natural defence system against external diseases.
We further support biodiversity within the vineyard via permanent mid-row swards and designated biodiversity areas in and around the vineyard, providing a habitat for insect-eating birds and micro bats, as well as an environment to support beneficial predatory insects.
One of the most obvious changes we have noticed already is a change in soil structure as well as invertebrate and microbial activity within the soil, which has improved water infiltration from rainfall and root distribution within the soil. We are also not seeing foliar nutrient deficiency symptoms, which in the past were common. The whole system appears more balanced, and we believe this difference in the vineyards will be reflected in the fruit and wine.
Lastly, the acquisition of the Piccadilly site has given us the opportunity to build a vineyard from the ground up. Could you speak to how your approach would differ in 2020 versus 2000 and what this will mean for Shaw + Smith moving into the future?
Piccadilly has given us the opportunity to develop a new vineyard and implement a well thought-out design, using practices drawn from vineyards across multiple regions and countries, using techniques that we believe will work best under conditions and site specifics at Piccadilly.
This vineyard will differ greatly from our existing vineyards by having a higher vine density - 10,666 vines/ha - double that of our next highest density site. Trellis construction will also differ slightly: while continuing with a Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) system, our post height will be lower, row spaces will be narrower, cordon height closer to ground level. In addition new clones of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be introduced along with some existing clones.
The site itself was chosen because the majority is south facing which, combined with a higher altitude than any of our other sites, will make it one of the coolest in the Adelaide Hills. The higher rainfall at Piccadilly combined with the lower cordon and close row spacing also adds a humidity difference to our other sites.
We are sure the high density planting will present some unexpected challenges, but that is what makes it more exciting! Nevertheless, once complete, we believe it will be a unique vineyard within South Australia, and provide us with a fruit source unlike any other.
The intention behind these interviews, which will be a regular feature, is to introduce you to the team members working hard behind the scenes at Shaw + Smith. From our winery and viticultural team, to the tasting room and office, we’ve got some great people for you to meet.
Tasting Room Manager, Alex Camatta, has taken on the mantle of chief interviewer, to share insights of what the team get up to, both in and outside of Shaw + Smith.
In this first instalment of our Interview Series, Alex introduces you to Tara Sullivan, Shaw + Smith’s Wine Club manager and the face behind the emails and updates you receive from us.
Tara, could we have a snapshot of your early years, where you were born, went to school, your early plans and aspirations?
Born in Townsville in FNQ, my family then moved back to Adelaide when I was young. I grew up with parents and 3 brothers in the Adelaide foothills, attending school and University in SA, before venturing overseas at 21, on a year-long backpacking tour of Ireland and Europe. Travelling gave me a greater appreciation for what SA has to offer. Coming back, I was keen to stay in my home state, close to family, and concentrated on fulfilling a long-held aspiration of working in wine. I undertook marketing roles in a variety of industries, including finance, legal and tourism, before making the move to wine, first in the Barossa and then to the Adelaide Hills with Shaw + Smith.
What was it that drew you to the world of wine?
I believe that SA has a lot to offer as a wine and tourism destination. Wine is fun, and celebratory, creating a sense of occasion, and drinking wine brings people together. Also, the agricultural aspect really appeals to me. It’s great to be involved in something that you really believe in. And being a hills dweller, I have particular regard for this beautiful region.
Tell us a little about your home life and how you spend your weekends?
Time spent with family is really important to me. I value weekends at home with my husband and daughter on our small property, around 20 acres of relatively hilly terrain. We have a small Chardonnay vineyard on a steep aspect, a real labour of love. My first attempt at making my own wine, pre-Shaw + Smith days, was a dismal failure. We’ve recently handed over the vineyard to a (winemaker) friend to manage and take the fruit. I’ve had more success with apple cider, made in a ‘Scrumpy’ style. We have a number of apple trees, as well as cherries. Also, a lemon orchard, along with sheep and a few chooks, surrounded by native bush.
When we first moved to the Hills, I was quite enchanted with the idea of becoming more self-sufficient. I admit to holding dreams of looming alpaca wool in the early days on the property, that never quite eventuated. But we have established a reasonable vegetable garden, a trout stocked dam, and my husband is creating an interesting topiary nursery, which is his thing.
We are close to the Heysen Trail, so there are some great walking tracks nearby. All in all, it’s a pretty special place to call home.
Besides sharing with your colleagues, what is it that you do with all the surplus lemons?
Reminiscent of Forest Gump, and Bubba’s litany of shrimp… Limoncello, lemon curd, lemon tarts, lemon cordial, lemonade…
Thank you, Tara. It was great to get a little more insight into the name behind the emails. Before we finish up, do you have a favourite wine memory or perfect wine-drinking scenario you would like to share with us?
Keeping it close to home… a long lunch with friends at the Star of Greece, Port Willunga… Chardonnay in the glass and some delicious seafood, is a great way to spend a Sunday (they are currently pouring our Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay too!)
With winter still upon us, this scenario paints a welcome picture for what we have to look forward to, come spring.