Hot 100 Wines SA 2015: The Other Wine Co

The Other Wine Co. is the new brand from Shaw + Smith, a winery that famously only uses vineyards in the Adelaide Hills for its exclusive line of wines. 

The Other Wine Co. is a chance for Shaw + Smith to experiment and explore other varieties and regions. The first two wines released under The Other Wine Co. banner are the 2015 Pinot Gris (Adelaide Hills) and the Hot 100-winning 2015 Grenache (McLaren Vale).

“This is a separate brand,” Shaw + Smith’s global sales and marketing manager David Lemire says of The Other Wine Co.

“We deliberately don’t put Shaw & Smith on the labels. It is its own thing. We want to emphasise that. It’s allowed us to do things we couldn’t otherwise do.”

“Two things with Shaw + Smith: one is regional – it’s Adelaide Hills-only and that rules out Grenache on providence alone,” Martin Shaw (owner and winemaker) says.

“The other thing is, from day one we’ve [Shaw + Smith] always had a very tight portfolio of wine. At the moment there are four wines effectively. While the majority of wine companies around the country are looking for new ways to add wines to their portfolio, we’re actually looking to tighten. It’s pretty rare that we add another wine to the Shaw + Smith line-up. I think that in itself is reason to have another vehicle to mess around with new interesting varieties and places.”

“When we started thinking about The Other Wine Co., it was about the sort of wines that we like to drink when we’re out ordering a glass,” Adam Wadewitz (senior winemaker) says.

“One of the things you want is the right variety in the right place, first of all to tick that box, and the next is all about drinkability, about having something that’s really delicious and something that’s not going to be dominated by oak or alcohol or extraction. It’s more about pleasure and the enjoyment you get from matching food with wine.”

“It is about the fruit singing,” Lemire says.

“As Adam says, it’s not about the oak, it’s not about wines that are heavily made. There’s very much a hands off approach to the winemaking.” 

The right grape grown in the right place is a mantra of The Other Wine Co. The wines are made to be enjoyed straight away; these aren’t bottles to cellar for many a year. Given the Hot 100 is all about drinkability and finding the best wines to drink right now, The Other Wine Co. seems a perfect candidate to take out the top prize.

“In this world of drinkability, and what they talk about with the Hot 100, I think that fits nicely into the way these wines are made,” Wadewitz says.

“The Pinot Gris is made to have flavour but with balance. Pinot Gris is all about texture because it’s not a huge aromatic variety; you need plenty of texture. We think the Hills delivers that and then, if you can pick it at the right time – prize that natural acidity but have some flavour and then build some texture – the drinkability and food friendliness of that wine is pretty strong. Our take on Grenache is that we’ve jumped in to try and capture freshness and brightness of the fruit as opposed to letting it hang out and be denser in flavour.

We’ve just used whole berries and whole bunches in ferments to help aid that and keep it fresh. As we said: no oak and bottled early. So everything is pointed to the bright, fresh zone and we find that that’s really worked well.”

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Traditionally with Grenache, the grapes are picked when they are pretty ripe. With the 2015 Grenache, The Other Wine Co. picked the grapes early to the surprise of their grower.

“We told this grower we were keen to pick and he couldn’t believe it,” Wadewitz says.

“He was amazed – ‘You sure you guys want to pick?’ On the day of picking, he rang in a mad flurry because he’s thinking of the longevity of our relationship, and trying to save us from ourselves. He said, ‘I’ve never picked Grenache this early. The grapes aren’t even black yet.’ We reassured him, hung up the phone and laughed for five minutes on the way down there. We got there and said, ‘This is perfect. This is exactly what we want.’ So we are looking forward to taking a bottle back to him and saying we told you it would be all right.” 

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The week The Other Wine Co won the Hot 100, Shaw + Smith took out Best Wine in Show at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show with their 2014 Shiraz while their other winery (Tasmania’s Tolpuddle) won a European show this year.

“It’s been a good couple of weeks, it’s fair to say,” Wadewitz says.

“As Martin said, I guess we’ve been exceeding expectations, which is nice.”

“We don’t enter a lot of shows so it’s unusual for us to have a such a show-centric week,” Lemire says.

“I think we entered about three things this year and with each one of them something came up.”

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Photos: Jessica Clark