Shiraz to spice up winter
Ruby red with staying power, Shiraz perfect for cold weather, writes Graham Howe
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