And it certainly is an art: Listening to the differences in technique and being able to compare the results of the various estates with just one grape varietal suddenly brings into sharp focus the subtlety of winemaking. Whether or not a wine is organic, 1 or 6 years old, was fermented in first, second or third fill French or (more rarely) American Oak barrels, does not guarantee the quality of the wine. The soil, climate, and whether or not the grapes come from a single or multiple vineyard blocks also has an impact. But let’s not get too technical about it, after all wine was made for drinking.
The Hartenberg 2012, Boekenhoutskloof 2012, Stark-Conde 2012, Keermont 2012, Tamboerskloof 2011, Thelema 2012, Boschkloof Epilogue 2012, and Eagle’s Nest 2012 are all go-to Shirazes if you’re looking for a red wine that’ll go well with dinner, but will also satisfy the sensibilities of your fellow dinner-party guests. Or you could skip the dinner and just drink the wine.
Waterford Estate had a table spread with cardamom, star anise, liquorice, cinnamon, and cloves: the spicy palate of their Shiraz. While the 2011 vintage they paired with pieces of dark chocolate was “the-vine”, the 2007 is the real treat.
However, the Shirazes that stole the show were undoubtedly the Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2012, and the Saronsberg 2005 vintage.
Although the light rain had us scurrying inside (after we’d parked on what was very possibly somebody’s lawn), the event itself was cosy and well organised. There was room and time to meander between the different tasting booths, buy some of the charcuterie on offer, and relax at the tables conveniently situated to keep an eye on the action. If the action proved too much, you could step outside and enjoy the brisk air and lovely view from the covered stoep. If you’d been sufficiently impressed by a wine or two and the price seemed reasonable, there was a central unobtrusive point at the back of the room where you could buy a bottle or six.
Of all the wines produced in South Africa, Shiraz has seen the steepest improvement. Years ago, it was a wine best left to the connoisseurs. Nowadays, choosing between a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, and Shiraz is a matter of preference rather than palatable safety. Just like its products, the South African wine industry seems to be getting better with age.