Ex­cit­ing Shi­raz top of the pops

The winelands come alive at this time of year, ex­plains Gra­ham Howe

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

WHEN I walk in the vine­yards I watch the rich fruits of the new har­vest com­ing in and won­der if it’s go­ing to be a sea­son for Sau­vi­gnon, Chardon­nay or Chenin, but the wine mak­ers say it’s far too early to tell.

The vine­yards are a sea of green, the grapes hang preg­nant on the vine and the dusty back roads are filled with trac­tor­drawn hop­pers over­flow­ing with grapes. The cel­lars are a hive of ac­tiv­ity, suf­fused with the heady aroma of fresh-pressed grapes and must and the wine mak­ers are pre­oc­cu­pied with when to pick what va­ri­eties.

While tast­ing my way around the winelands, ex­cit­ing new re­leases of Shi­raz have been a high­light:

Al­lée Bleue Shi­raz 2007. I en­joyed lunch with Van Zyl du Toit, wine grower at this bou­tique Fran­schhoek win­ery. He told me, “At­ten­tion to de­tail through­out the wine-mak­ing process is the key to ex­cel­lent wines.” I en­joyed the bold flavours: the herba­ceous Sau­vi­gnon Blanc 2009 and spicy, savoury Shi­raz 2007.

Allesver­loren Shi­raz 2009. The old­est win­ery in the Swart­land (1704) has re­leased its new vin­tage of Shi­raz, a sig­na­ture va­ri­ety in the Riebeek Val­ley. Fam­ily wine­maker Danie Malan says, “It is deep ruby in colour and teems with aro­mas of black­cur­rant, prunes and ci­gar box, and is rich and full, with am­ple ripe fruit on the palate.”

Dean David 2 Mile Square Swart­land Syrah 2008. One of an ex­cit­ing clus­ter of new fam­ily cel­lars in Riebeek Kas­teel, this lim­ited release is named af­ter fa­ther-and­son team Dean and David Thomp­son. Sourced from five small vine­yards within a two-mile square area, this lus­cious wine is an el­e­gant ex­pres­sion of the Swart­land ter­roir.

Diemers­dal Shi­raz 2008. Wine­maker Mari van der Merwe won Wine’s Shi­raz Chal­lenge 2009 for her maiden 2007 vin­tage. The judges praised its “mod­ern ac­ces­si­ble style. In a sea of rather mono­lithic wines, it stood out for its clean, pure fruit”. Made in the same style, the 2008 has juicy fruit, fresh acid­ity and fine tan­nins.

Harten­berg Shi­raz 2006. A new trio of Shi­raz shows the in­di­vid­u­al­ity and style of dif­fer­ent sites — the Gravel Hill, The Stork and Es­tate Shi­raz 2006 — all rated 4,5 to 5 stars in Plat­ter’s SA Wines 2010. Wine maker Carl Schultz says, “We feel that only af­ter four years does the va­ri­ety give one a glimpse of the locked-away po­ten­tial.”

Heron Ridge The Flight Shi­raz 2006. This bou­tique fam­ily cel­lar on the slopes of the Helder­berg is a bio­dy­namic wine farm that spe­cialises in Shi­raz and makes just 1 000 cases of wine ev­ery vin­tage. The 2006 vin­tage takes flight with clas­sic pep­per and spice, ripe tan­nins, fine tex­ture and a light, sweet brush of Amer­i­can oak.

Jour­ney’s End Cape Doc­tor Shi­raz 2005. High­lights of a tast­ing of the new re­leases of this cult cel­lar were the stun­ning Cape Doc­tor Shi­raz 2005, Des­ti­na­tion Chardon­nay 2006 and Jour­ney’s End Chardon­nay 2008.

Phizante Kraal Shi­raz 2007. This maiden wine comes from the Brink’s fam­ily farm in Dur­banville, where grapes have been grown since 1698. Ma­tured for 24 months in French oak bar­riques, this lav­ish wine has rich plum and black­berry flavours en­hanced by el­e­gant spice and white pep­per aro­mas.

Solms-Delta Africana Shi­raz 2007. I in­dulged in a su­perb lunch at Solms-Delta Fyn­draai restau­rant in Fran­schhoek with owner Mark Solms and wine maker Hilko Hegewisch who spoke of their pas­sion for blends. They use an old tech­nique to des­ic­cate grapes on the vine, in­ten­si­fy­ing the flag­ship Shi­raz and al­lur­ing Hier­van­daan 2007 blend.

Waterk­loof Cir­cum­stance Shi­raz 2007. The new grav­ity-fed cel­lar and restau­rant on the slopes of the Helder­berg of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views all the way to False Bay. Over lunch wine maker Werner En­gel­brecht pointed out the dis­tinct sites of Waterk­loof’s ter­roir trio of Sau­vi­gnon Blanc and Cir­cum­stance reds.

Wel­geleë Re­serve Pet­lou Shi­raz NV. An­other ex­cit­ing new release in Cape Bou­tique Wines port­fo­lio — Dean David, Phizante Kraal, Mi­ravel, Romond, Russo and Rus­ti­cus — from a fam­ily farm in Paarl. This de­light­ful blend of two vin­tages with ripe berry fruit and soft tan­nins came out tops at a garag­iste tast­ing of more than 50 wines.

Wildekrans Shi­raz 2007. The la­bel shows work­ers har­vest­ing bas­kets of grapes in th­ese Bot River vine­yards on the way to Her­manus. Ma­tured in French oak bar­riques for 15 months, it gives clas­sic ex­pres­sion to the va­ri­ety with in­tense black fruit aro­mas and spicy, vanilla palate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.