The BB crew call this a “signature and unique blend” and certainly an “SMC” is going to be just that, even more so as it is a co-ferment of all three varieties. (Mondeuse is quite a rarity in Australia, originating in France’s eastern Savoy region, planted at Brown Brothers’ Milawa vineyard more than a century ago, and existing in less than a dozen places around the country) The first thing you notice here is a distinctive aromatic, somewhat in the same vein as you’d get in a shiraz viognier blend, a black fruit meets peach/apricot/ meets an underlying charcoal character, all of which develops further with suggestions of licorice and sarsaparilla as you sip. How much of this is the impact of two years in 13% new American oak – the rest one and two year old barrels – is worth the curiosity as you engage the deeply set, fine tannins that wrap around this generous bag of lingering flavours. It’s big and bold and quite something in its authenticity.
This wine is a vinous ode to one man’s vision.
The late, great John Brown Snr, who cherished all grapes great and small, called Mondeuse a “silver wedding anniversary” kind of wine with a long, long lifetime ahead of it, and so he fashioned a wine around it.
The SMC has longevity and character to burn. It remains possibly the essential Brown Brothers wine. It breaks all the rules (possibly why there are no others like it anywhere) and reflects the personality of the man and the family behind it.
It’s a wine for the cellar, or if it’s for broaching make sure it has some age behind it, such as this 2013 release.
Rule One: give this wine a lot of air time.
Rule Two: break out the big wine glasses.
Striking mix of sweet oak played against a background of blackberry, prune, dark chocolate and tilled earth.
Mondeuse is a highly tannic inky grape variety. Here it provides the dramatic setting for the wine: dry, earthy, savoury.
Shiraz and Cabernet embellish with a great wad of sweet, black fruits. Chocolatey, toasty oak plays a role, too. Tannins demand your attention, but they remain integrated and in no way tell the whole story.
Each player here brings something to the table.
This is Brown Brother’s flagship single vineyard wine, made from grapes grown at Milawa: 50% shiraz, 25% mondeuse and 25% cabernet co-fermented to produce a deeply hued, layered and complex red. Brooding dark fruits with plum and black cherry compote laced with Christmas pud spice. Intense and rich, American oak tricks the palate into a smoothness and then – pow! – tannin grip and structure, whilst savoury leather and earthy notes hint at its age. The wine is super-spritely now though and has plenty of time to go. I would be drinking this with a fat-rich rib eye, BBQ’d on an open flame, yes sirree Bob.