Our Smith’s vineyard is home to some of the most exciting clones of Merlot in Australia; the Argentinean sourced 8R and Italian Q45-14. Planted in 2003 we are starting to see the fruit mature beautifully. The use of these clones combined with carefully considered viticulture and winemaking practices are the foundation of this special wine. A large portion of this wine is created by fermenting “berries in the barrel”. Three tonnes of handpicked Merlot was destemmed into French barriques without crushing the berries. Whole berry fermentation minimises the tannin extraction and creates a style of Merlot that is powerful yet generous and flavoursome without harsh tannins.
Bright and medium depth in colour with a crimson hue. This unique wine opens with beautiful aromas of cloves, roses, cinnamon and fresh strawberries. There is a savoury lift of wintergreen with a sweet spicy finish reminiscent of Panforte. A complex wine that exhibits intricate flavours. The palate opens with a full burst of mulberry and boysenberry and a hint of vanilla. The wine shows depth, supple velvety tannins and lovely fruit generosity accompanied by intriguing savoury undertones. This is a unique Merlot of great interest that will cellar for ten years. Enjoy with lentil and walnut loaf, roast chicken or contemplate over vintage cheddar.
Sitting as part of the Hill-Smith wine empire, Smith & Hooper was established in 1994 in the Wrattonbully region of South Australia. The Smith and the Hooper families originally owned the vineyards, so it is a good thing that they are still family-owned. The nice thing about this label is that the wines are made from the 82-hectares of estate-grown fruit, which means it has a sense of regionality. Winemaker Natalie Cleghorn and vigneron James Freckleton fashion stunning Merlot, along with a Cabernet Merlot and a Pinot Grigio too, from this oft over-looked region. The styles are elegant and balanced without being overworked with oak.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - HALLIDAY'S WINE COMPANION
The flavours curl through the mouth with both impressive weight and shape. Gum leaf, choc-mint, fresh boysenberry and pure blackcurrant flavours come gently infused with dry tobacco. It's as convincing as it is enjoyable. There's a structural integrity to this; an impression that everything has been served in right and proper order.
CAMPBELL MATTINSON - THE WINE FRONT
The ‘standard’ Smith & Hooper Merlots slightly exceeds expectations; this Reserve version falls just under them. The price difference isn’t quite two-fold but its getting there; my advice is to go with the standard. Not that this is a bad wine. It’s decent and more. It has reasonable-to-good depth, a firmness to the tannin, a load of choc-coffee flavour and whispers of truffle. In cellaring terms this clearly exceeds the ‘standard’ merlot release, let’s be clear. It’s splashed with gum leaf aromas/flavours and its length, while satisfactory, is no more than that. It paddles hard without really going anywhere.