Michael Hill Smith is interviewed by Tony Love, Herald Sun (Melbourne) about "I am what I eat."
Find out why food for Michael was schizophrenic.. why he became a wine producer ....and one of his most memorable meals...
Click here to see the full article.
Meet the Judges: Michael Hill Smith MW (Decanter.com, Monday 25 February 2013)
"To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
Michael Hill-Smith MW DWWA 2013 Regional Chair
Michael Hill Smith MW works in many areas of the wine trade, including at his own vineyard, Shaw + Smith. Find out about one of our two Regional Chairs for Australia in this interview...
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
After passing my MW in 1988, I set up Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills with my winemaking cousin and close friend Martin Shaw. After 23 vintages this still remains my major focus – augmented by wine judging, masterclasses, wine consulting (for clients including Singapore Airlines), and an unseemly amount of travel.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
As I was born into a wine family, wine has always been part of my life. Yet it was not until my early twenties that I became aware of the diversity and wonder of wine.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
Always be true to your palate – regardless of the reputation or provenance of a wine. Objectivity is creditability.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Without question, Len Evans - Decanter Man of the Year 1997. His carrot and stick approach gave me the confidence to move to the UK to study for the MW, and to set up Shaw + Smith on my return.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
It’s hard to isolate any one standout [moment] in a myriad of good bottles, fine food and interesting people. As a mate of mine points out - "Working in wine is work – but not as most people understand the concept".
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Wines from dynamic and talented people, driven by quality not fashion. In Australia this often equates to small-to-medium sized producers making exciting regional wines with a sense of place.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment? Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Burgundy, both white and red; aged Aussie Riesling; top quality Pinot Noir and the best of Australia's 'new wave' Chardonnays.
And yes, as Adelaide is home to many winemakers so it has a healthy and inquisitive wine scene.
What’s your desert island wine?
1978 DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) La Tache for the evenings and Dom Perignon Rosé on tap during the day.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Drink wine mindfully – think about what you are tasting, and take the time to learn about the wine in your glass.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Balance, length, intensity, complexity, and a sense of uniqueness.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Catching up with the old and bold, and the best and brightest. The camaraderie amongst judges is what keeps me coming back."
Read more at http://www.decanter.com/people-and-places/interviews/583661/meet-the-judges-michael-hill-smith-mw#FIjXoxHuxR3YHgTI.99
We're delighted to report that 2012 was an outstanding vintage: beautiful weather, slow even ripening, without heat spikes. Yields were down significantly, but the grapes were in pristine condition with great flavour and acidity. As always, grapes were hand picked.
The Sauvignon Blanc has great vibrancy and freshness.
Our Chardonnay grapes had terrific acid tension and flavor. Whole bunch pressing, wild fermentation, and partial malolactic have further added to the intensity of this wine.
2012 is our best vintage to date for Pinot Noir. A product of vintage conditions, vine maturity, low yields and the first time we have included a portion of stems during fermentation.
Shiraz has deep colour with concentrated spice and tannin and shows great potential.
In all, a dream vintage.
This a question Martin and I have been asked frequently since buying the highly rated Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River Valley about 30 minutes from Hobart.
Long term insurance against climate change? Tasmania’s pristine environment? The undeniable excellence of the state’s best wines? Whilst these factors undoubtedly played a part – in the end it was serendipity and good fortune than won the day.
Halliday, Hooke, Stock and others have written extensively about Tasmania’s great potential so we thought we should take a look ourselves. More of a reconnaissance than a buying expedition.
Dinner on our first night was at the excellent Stillwater in Launceston with Tasmanian wine legend Andrew Pirie and former Hardy’s chief winemaker Peter Dawson. Pirie arrived with laptop in hand complete with climatic maps and data which proved to be enlightening. I hadn’t fully realized just how cold and dry eastern and southern Tasmania are, principally due to the rain shadow effect of the westerly mountains. This combination of dry and cold conditions produces grapes with outstanding flavor and acidity, but without the same disease threat of wetter climates.
Dawson boldly predicted that “Tasmania would be making Australia’s best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir within the next decade”. Martin and my attention sharpened noticeably!
After a bottle of Roederer, Bonneau du Martray, and number of good Tassie wines, Dawson boldly predicted that “Tasmania would be making Australia’s best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir within the next decade”. Martin and my attention sharpened noticeably! Dawson is releasing his own Tasmanian Pinot and Chardonnay in October later under the
Dawson and James label – a joint project with the equally talented Tim James.
The following day we called in briefly to see Claudio Radenti at Freycinet on the East Coast. Claudio worked with Martin in Bordeaux in the late 80’s and has consistently made some of Tasmania’s finest wines. Great region but a long way from either Hobart of Launceston we mused on the beautiful drive south to our appointment at Tolpuddle – a vineyard near Richmond established in 1988 by Tony Jordan, Gary Crittenden and Bill Casimaty.
The moment we drove through the gate it was love at first sight. 20 hectares of mature Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines planted on a long even slope, with lean soils, forests above and water below and great vineyard exposure. Fantastic.
So it had taken us less than two 2 days to find our perfect vineyard - but a vineyard not even on the market! On our return to the mainland Martin made an initial approach via Tony Jordan and much to our delight negotiations commenced and were soon successfully completed.
Our plan is to make to single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay under the Tolpuddle vineyard label – making a small amount of wine in 2012 for release in 2013.
So there you have it. A spontaneous road trip, some timely advice from mates and a healthy dose of serendipity. Some things are meant to be.