Imagine warm weather has arrived and you feel like a cool, refreshing drink, nothing too intense though. Enter, “smashable” red wines.
Why the tag “smashable”? The name seems to source more from usage than from a logical nexus. An exclamatory might be, Let’s smash out a cool bottle! In any case, these are vibrant “now” wines, and less of wines to ponder upon. Laura Carter describes them. “They are light, lower alcohol, and are meant to be enjoyed chilled. Thay show best in warmer weather. They are lower in tannin, lighter, and picked early for lesser alcohol and high acidity. They give an impression of being mashable. They have a certain crunchiness and are meant to be enjoyed young.”
Brendan Carter talks about these wines. “We (Australia) are a great big island. It makes sense that we craft wines we can enjoy by the sea. These smashable wines are red with high acid, lifted aromatics, and show little mid-palate flesh. That’s it! Get it right in vineyard so there is little added handling in the winemaking.”
Mark adds, “These wines are very fresh and have just a touch of a serious quality to them, but not too much. These are grape varietals that hold acidity in warmer climes, such as Nero and Muscat.”
Lighter weight red grape varieties include Gamay Beaujolais, Cinsaut, Sangiovese, and Nero d’Avola, but it’s not readily discernable what wineries use which grapes. The mix may depend upon the vintage.
Aaron Meeker noted that smashable is a fairly new style of wine. He said that Vine Street Imports were pushing smashable wines from the get-go, and are happy to see interest developing.
Laura explained, “The style is achieved by harvesting earlier than conventionally. The result is higher acid which provides freshness, with the lower alcohol from less sugar development making these wines quite inviting and drinkable.”
Brendan added a few winemaking details, “Not to be too technical, but harvest ph. should be about 3.2-3.6, which isn’t easy with heavy irrigation. Richer varietals will work too, like Touriga and Saferavei. It’s about natural acidity and the ability to grow something in balance with its site. The variety is the lens that we’re seeing the site thru.”
Mark asked “Do certain age groups have a liking for smashable wines?” Brendan replied, “All ages drink smashable wines.”
Laura Carter. Chief Do-er and Fleet Controller, winemaker – Team Unico.
Born in Melbourne but raised across the globe, Laura has developed a unique passion to express Australian culture through wine. Cutting her teeth at the eponymous Henschke winery before heading back overseas to gain experience in the Rhone Valley.
Brendan Carter. Chief Thinker, Winemaker, Distiller – Team Unico.
Brendan studied Oenology and Viticulture and went on to work with iconic Australian wine producers such as S.C. Pannell, Jacob’s Creek, G.D. Vajra and a raft of smaller producers in the Adelaide Hills. With his partner Laura, Brendan founded Unico in 2012 out of a mutual love of the Australian landscape and a passion to push forward sustainable practices in the beverage industry that protected the future of the land and created new ways to use native botanical ingredients.
Aaron Meeker. VP Sales & Education, Vine Street Imports.
By his last name (read, Alias) ‘Meeker’ is a wine professional and enthusiast. He first stained his teeth working as a wine director for a prominent country club in Tulsa, Oklahoma eschewing standard offerings and pushing the boundaries. Started a new fine wine distribution business in Kansas in the late aughts. Ten years into Vine Street Imports, Meeker is an important figure in the selection, marketing and sales of the brands from around the world as well as being a visible ambassador of the brand. Residence, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mark Davidson – Moderator. Head of Education – Americas, Wine Australia.
Born in London and raised in Sydney, Mark has over 35 years of experience in the hotel, restaurant and wine business. During his 15 years as a sommelier, he was named Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Wine Festival 2001.
- Credit the author, Michael Rockich