Monday 19 November 2007


TIM Smith must have wondered if he’d crossed a black cat enroute to his first vintage as Chief Winemaker at Chateau Tanunda in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

After a highly-respected career with Yalumba, St Hallett and Tatachilla, and stints wine-making in Portugal and France, Tim arrived at Tanunda earlier this year to anything but what he’d hoped would be a great vintage for his first wines under the company’s label.

First it was to be the Barossa’s lowest-ever cropping vintage, and secondly it would be the earliest harvest in living memory, all brought about by severe frosts in October ’06, then drought, and finally rain at a time when the Barossa is normally dry pre-harvest.

The result was that what low crops were on the 80-year vines suddenly ripened and had to be harvested three weeks early, and while some offered up as little as a 20th their normal weight in fruit, careful bunch selection achieved fruit of exceptional flavour.

And Tim’s first wine from the vintage, his 2007 The Chateau Riesling is remarkably looking like being credited as something of a benchmark Riesling in the Valley: it has beautifully abundant lemon and lime aromas with hints of passionfruit, and on the palate a wonderfully juicy lime fruit finish with a crispy touch of minerality.

At $18 it’s a ripper to enjoy with seafood, but with its clean natural acid it’ll also go down well with lightly spicy Thai Green Chicken, or even Sweet and Sour Pork.

EXTRAORDINARY success: Chateau Tanunda’s 2007 The Chateau Riesling.

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