Andrew “Thommo” Thomas is one of the Hunter Valley’s best winemakers, he’s plenty of trophies for his Braemore Semillon and more than a bit of bling for his Shiraz. Thommo doesn’t own any vineyards himself, but he has great relationships with some growers who have access to wonderful patches of dirt. This wine comes from the Sweetwater Vineyard, in the Belford sub-region of the Hunter. Thommo doesn’t mind a bit of whole bunch in the press, but never pushes too hard to get the nasty green astrigent flavours that can come from that process. He’s quite gentle with his berries.
A slight disclaimer…I “helped” Thommo out during vintage in 2013. I dragged some hoses, swept the winery floor, forked some grapes into the auger (mostly causing it to jam), cleaned the crushed grapes out the press, cooked the barbeque lunches and generally tried to stay out of the way whilst Thommo and Richard Done, his more than capable assistant wine maker, did the actual wine work. I obviously didn’t stuff up too much, as Thommo allowed me back to do the same in 2014. Needless to say, 2013 was a cracker of a vintage….
Thomas Wines, Sweetwater Shiraz, Hunter Valley, 2013
The little bit of American oak gives the coconut sprinkle on a lovely, floral, expressive modern Australian Shiraz. It’s all blossoms, blackberry, plums and 5 spice, with just a lick of Hunter Valley savoury, almost salty tang. 14%, but you wouldn’t know. White pepper and that 5 spice start the journey down the rabbit hole into wonderland, where you keep finding black fruits, red fruits all cocooned in deft, almost magical oak treatment. The Kiss shiraz may get a lot of the limelight, but there’s something else going on with this wine. Will last for another 20 years at least, yet it is so alluring now. As Alice asked the Cat:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Wine sample courtesy of Thomas Wines