As unfashionable as it may be, I’m a true believer in the importance of people in wine. To be clear, I’m not advocating a brutish obliteration of place, but rather for the inclusion of humans, from viticulturist through winemaker to drinker, in our concept of what makes a wine compelling. Wine is natural only in the most basic, uninteresting sense, and it truly comes alive when its agricultural origins collide with a raft of cultural practices and, ultimately, with the aesthetics of the people who drink it.
The role, in all this, of the consulting winemaker, is problematic. Often charged with the task of bringing to life a client’s vision, the consultant risks losing his voice and becoming simply the guardian of best practice and sound outcomes. Which makes this particular wine interesting to me. Tim Geddes is the consulting winemaker behind some of the hottest young brands coming out of McLaren Vale. I’ve gotten to know Tim a little, as the winery I’m doing vintage with, Dowie Doole, makes its red wines in Tim’s winery. Though Tim is clearly in demand as a winemaker for others, I’ve been more and more curious to know what he might make under his own name. This wine is my first clue. The Seldom Inn range forms a second label for Geddes Wines.
The nose here is fragrant and spicy, with cedar oak and forest floor characters complementing fresh berry fruit. Brown spice and bottle aged notes back up higher toned aromas. As an aroma profile it’s all well and good, but what’s especially interesting is its finesse. This is no McLaren Vale fruit bomb. Rather, the aromas are subtle, intertwined, thoughtful, not light so much as well defined and nimble.
The palate creeps up on you, with fresh berry fruit the first flavour to register, followed by gentle brown spice, cigar box and elegant hints of bottle age. Acid structure is still very present, and the wine has fantastic length. Tannins are firm and drying, complementing attractive tobacco notes on the finish. As with the nose, flavours are well articulated and adult, with as many savoury as sweet characters. This is a wine of subtlety and, at this stage, notable complexity, and happily it does not overreach in terms of intensity.
In many ways this is a quiet wine, knitting together its flavours gently, never thrusting its qualities into the drinker’s face. If this is what Tim Geddes thinks good wine should taste like, I may just go along for the ride.