Shi­raz to spice up win­ter

Ruby red with stay­ing power, Shi­raz per­fect for cold weather, writes Gra­ham Howe

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SOME say Syrah, oth­ers say Shi­raz. The an­cient grape of the north­ern Rhône goes into some of the great wines of the world from Crozes-Her­mitage to Côte Rôtie. Com­pris­ing about 10% of our national vine­yard, Shi­raz is planted through­out the Cape to­day — with re­gions from Swart­land and Stel­len­bosch to Paarl and Robert­son claim­ing to be its new home. Try a few of th­ese typ­i­cal ex­pres­sions of Shi­raz, se­duc­tive ver­sions of the spicy red berry grape:

Boschen­dal Re­serve Col­lec­tion Shi­raz 2011. The win­ner of a Rhone Va­ri­etal Tro­phy on the De­canter World Wine Awards 2013 hails from one of the Cape’s old­est wine es­tates (1685). Wine­maker JC Bekker has made ev­ery vin­tage since 1986 — giv­ing clas­sic ex­pres­sion to the va­ri­ety with spicy black pep­per and dark ripe fruit char­ac­ter.

Eik­endal Charisma 2011. The win­ner of two tro­phies at the 2013 Old Mu­tual Wine Show — best Shi­raz-based blend and dis­cov­ery of show — is an eclec­tic blend of old vine Shi­raz (88%) with a splash of Petit Ver­dot and San­giovese. Nico Grob­ler makes be­guil­ing red blends with earthy Mediter­ranean char­ac­ter ideal for win­ter fare.

Gra­ham Beck The Game Re­serve Shi­raz 2010. Wine­maker Erika Obermeyer launched nine wines in a sin­gle va­ri­etal se­ries — each named af­ter an en­dan­gered con­ser­va­tion icon from the river­ine rab­bit to the honey­bad­ger. Rich and ripe, the Shi­raz is lay­ered with spicy pep­per, mul­berry and black cherry fruit.

Hartenberg Door­keeper Shi­raz 2010. Wine­maker Carl Schultz cel­e­brates his 20th vin­tage in 2013 at this renowned wine farm in the Bot­te­lary Hills of Stel­len­bosch. He calls his cre­ation “an ex­pres­sion of Shi­raz in a younger, more mod­ern, more up­front style … to show­case the fruit-for­ward aro­mat­ics and flavours of the grape”.

Hartenberg The Stork Shi­raz 2008. Rated the top Shi­raz at the 2012 Syrah du Monde Com­pe­ti­tion in France, this wine makes up a quar­tet of ex­pres­sions from this spe­cial­ist Shi­raz cel­lar. From a sin­gle-vine­yard site — like their flag­ship Gravel Hill Shi­raz — the Stork flies out of the glass with rich black fruit, vi­o­let and cherry flavours.

Klooven­burg Shi­raz 2011. Wine­maker Pi­eter du Toit spe­cialises in world-class Chardon­nay and Shi­raz at this land­mark fam­ily wine and olive farm (1704) on the slopes of Riebeek-Kas­teel. Ma­tured in French oak, this se­duc­tive Shi­raz has smoky flavours, spice, ripe dark berry flavours and a rich choco­late af­ter­taste.

La Motte Shi­raz 2010. The 2013 South African win­ner of the Great Wine Cap­i­tals Best of Wine Tourism Awards has its own Shi­raz Stu­dio where you can taste its sig­na­ture grape in a flag­ship Shi­raz-Viog­nier blend, Shi­razGre­nache blend and suc­cu­lent Shi­raz with a splash of Grenache, Tem­pranillo, Cin­saut and Carig­nan.

Mu­ratie Ron­nie Melck Shi­raz 2010. I en­joyed a ver­ti­cal flight of Shi­raz from the Melck’s her­itage fam­ily cel­lar (1685) in Stel­len­bosch, where ev­ery nook and cranny re­tains a great sense of his­tory. The es­tate’s sig­na­ture red grape shows great pu­rity of fruit in a wine with sweet spice, flo­ral notes, green pep­per­corns and soft, ripe tan­nins.

Olden­burg Syrah 2009. This bou­tique wine farm set high in the Ban­hoek Val­ley of Stel­len­bosch cel­e­brates its first decade in 2013 with the re­lease of Rhodium 2010, its first Bordeaux-style blend. The Syrah has al­lur­ing aro­mas of red berries and vanilla with lay­ers of cloves, white pep­per, rasp­ber­ries and sweet choco­late cher­ries.

Si­mon­sig Mr Bo­rio’s Shi­raz 2011. A trib­ute to Alessan­dro Bo­rio, an Ital­ian POW who built the first win­ery tanks at Si­mon­sig dur­ing the Sec­ond World War is as full-bod­ied as his legacy. This Shi­raz has a rich black berry bou­quet and lay­ers of rich black fruit, sweet spice, ripe tan­nins and a hint of vanilla. Great with grills and roasts.

Solms Delta Africana Shi­raz 2011. Made from des­ic­cated grapes — an an­cient method which dries the grape on the vine to con­cen­trate colour, acids and fruit sug­ars — it is one of the most un­usual wines from the Cape. Deep, con­cen­trated and in­tense, it has liquorice, black cher­ries and cas­sis fruit, with sub­tle white pep­per and flo­ral perfume.

Waterk­loof Cir­cum­stance Syrah 2009. “This wine speaks of el­e­gance and fem­i­nin­ity,” says wine­maker Na­dia Barnard who has worked on this high-ly­ing Helder­berg cel­lar since this sus­tain­able, bio­dy­namic win­ery opened its doors in 2009. Their maiden Pea­cock Ridge Shi­raz 2011 is great value with a re­fined spicy, sup­ple, juicy char­ac­ter.

A view of the Eik­endal cel­lar and dam

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