Smith & Sheth ‘Cru’ Wairau Sauvignon Blanc 2019
89 Points – $30
Drink 2020 – 2021
No mistaking this. A fine though absolutely typical Marlborough Savvy. Comes from an old (25 years) vineyard near the Renwick township and hillside fruit from the biodynamically grown Churton Vineyard. Pungent with some tropical hints, lovely mango, some touches of gooseberry and even a lick of citrus. Lots of rockmelon notes. There is some zippy acidity though the palate is reasonably soft. Decent length and focus, especially for the variety. A refined style of Savvy, though not lacking in flavour. A good Kiwi Sauv Blanc.
Smith & Sheth ‘Cru’ Heretaunga Chardonnay 2018
94 Points – $50
Drink 2020 – 2027
A seriously impressive Chardonnay. The fruit comes from two vineyards in the Heretaunga sub-region – the Heretaunga Plains is a 300 square kilometre alluvial plain at the southern end of the Hawkes Bay district (Napier, Hastings and Havelock North are all located on the plain). The first vineyard is dry farmed with clones, 15 and 95; the second has Mendoza clones grown on river terrace soil. Whole bunch pressing, then fermentation in new and older French oak (19% new), 100% malo and some lees stirring during its ten months in oak.
This is a very impressive Chardonnay. Nuts, a mix of almonds and grilled cashews, with stonefruit characters. A slight mineral backing. A little oak is still apparent. Has focus and very good length throughout, and it maintains its intensity. A slight but appealing smoky note. Juicy acidity. A lovely all-round Chardonnay.
Smith & Sheth ‘Cru’ Heretaunga Cabernet Franc 2018
92 Points – $50
Drink 2020 – 2027
Those who so easily dismiss Cab Franc as a light quaffing red or a grape only suitable for blending need to reassess and this is the wine that will help them do that. A delicious example of the variety similar to a really good Bourgueil from the Loire Valley. The vines are 25 plus years of age, from the Bridge Pa region. Hand harvesting, destemmed, 9 days on skins and then to French oak barrels, 50% new, for 12 months.
Vibrant red colour. Notes of red cherries and dry herbs. Spices. Warm earth, red berries and tobacco leaf characters. A medium-bodied style, full of life. Juicy and quite delicious. Obviously ideal for summer drinking, but fine anytime. Should have a good five to eight years ahead. If one had to pick a hole, it is perhaps lacking a smidge of intensity on the finish.
Smith & Sheth ‘Cru’ Omahu ‘Cantera’ 2018
95 Points – $70
Drink 2022 – 2030
A blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cab Franc and 32% Tempranillo from the stony river bed soils of Gimblett Gravels. Vines are between seven and twenty years of age. Co-fermentation. Open top vessels, punched down twice a day. Oak is 30% new American and the rest French barriques. This is the only CRU wine under cork.
It is described as ‘inspired by the reds of Spain’, even though less than a third is from Spanish varieties. Whatever the inspiration, this is my pick of their wines. Alluring aromatics offering immediate appeal. Excellent integration, very good length, concentrated and with fine balance. A red with intensity yet light on its feet. There is a smoky, cassis character with a charcuterie note. Plush texture, silky tannins. A wine with a big future.
Smith & Sheth ‘Cru’ Heretaunga Syrah 2018
93 Points – $50
Drink 2020 – 2028
From various Gimblett Gravels vineyards, with an average age of eleven years. 100% destemmed but not crushed prior to fermentation. One gentle pumpover a day and then 11 months in French barriques, 35% new. A vibrant purple colour with aromatics of dark berries and truffles. A touch of root vegetable with black cherry and chocolate. A lovely slippery texture, good length. A fine example of what this region can do with Shiraz/Syrah. Should age well for a decade or more.