Tim Smith of Tim Smith Wines, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Signature Wines/Prices: Barossa Mataro/Grenache/Shiraz $35 USD, Barossa Shiraz $35 USD, Eden Valley Viognier (TBD)
Where were you born? Where do you live now? Born in Adelaide, South Australia. Now resident in Vine Vale, via Tanunda, Barossa Valley.
How did you get into the wine business? Drinking a bottle of old Yarra Yering Dry Red #2 then meeting it’s maker, Dr Bailey Carrodus, coincidentally a few months later. I wanted to make something that had such an alluring bouquet.
What is most and least rewarding about being a winemaker? Most rewarding: travelling overseas, and talking to people that have tried and liked the wines. Least rewarding: Spending too much time doing the ‘admin’ side of the business!
What are the challenges of making wine in your region? Water is a big issue, as is growing grapes and getting them to be flavor ripe at lower sugar levels.
Have Australians’ wine preferences changed in the last 10 years? Yes, we are tending to drink more cooler-climate style red wines. Hopefully we stop drinking Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and discover our own unique whites as well.
Have you been to the U.S.? Have visited the USA a number of times.
Do you think Australia gets an unfair reputation in the U.S. for producing unbalanced, fruit bombs? I do think we are misunderstood in terms of the diverse range of styles that we actually do make. Sure, there are producers who still make the old fashioned, extracted, ‘blood and guts’ style of Shiraz, but playing devil’s advocate, there is still a market for those styles. Australia is not just one region people! The Yarra Valley is vastly different to the Barossa which is vastly different to the Barossa, etc.
Which wine or grape is the least understood or respected? Lots. I think Australia has a good understanding of what it does best, i.e Shiraz, Cabernet, Riesling, Mataro, Grenache etc, but the current fascination for ‘new’ or ‘alternative’ varieties fascinates me. We have had our core range of varieties for up to 160 years now and they have thrived in our country for a very good reason: they grow well and we make them well. I’m not down playing interest in new varieties, but for example there is the same validity applied to Tempranillo thriving in Spain: it grows well there and is made well there because it is understood.
What excites you most about Australian wine right now? The younger generation of winemakers, especially the guys I tend to have a beer with. They just ‘get it’, mostly. Another thing that I am grateful for is the number of inspirational people I have met along the way in this business–not necessarily winemakers (but mostly so). And the people that have given me the chance to be a part of this wonderful journey. Enough soul searching for now…
What do you drink when relaxing at home? Cotes du Rhone, Aussie Riesling for weekdays, St Joseph, Condrieu, Cote Rotie for weekends!
What types of food do you like to eat? I really love good locally home grown vegetables and meat. I’m a fan of the ‘low food miles’ concept. We have a breed of pork raised locally (Berkshire Gold) which is particularly tasty, as well as of course great Australian Angus beef. As part of working in this industry I’m fortunate to be able to eat in some of the best restaurants in the world, which is fine, but there is nothing so satisfying as a great meal at home.
What music do you listen to? The clichéd ‘all types’ but I am especially partial to Australian music. Some Aussie names off the top of my head: Paul Kelly, The Beasts of Bourbon, Keith Urban, Cold Chisel, AC/DC, The Living End, You Am I, Nick Cave. Internationally: Santana, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Kings of Leon, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Rolling Stones, Tom Waits. Get the picture?
Which non-Australian wines do you like? Non-Australian wines I drink the most of include but are not limited to: Cote Rotie (Jamet, Guigal); Cornas (tasted the 2010 Clape Cornas recently in Cornas–best Northern Rhone wine I have had the pleasure of tasting); Bandol–visited Domaine Tempier recently as well; and other Southern Rhones including Usseglio and Chateau Rayas.
Are there any wines you can’t stand to drink? The only wine I can’t stand to drink would be Marlborough Sauv Blanc, and anything not made with (a) a pedigree and (b) a passionate producer.
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? I am right in the middle of vintage as I type this, so a secluded beach and a fishing rod sounds great!
Anything else you care to share? Can’t wait to get back to New York in September! Also, thanks for the opportunity to tell you a bit about my region and myself.