South Africa is a very exciting wine region that is a blend of new and old world wine styles. There are some very good wines being produced there right now, and It’s been my favorite wine region lately. One I tried just the other day is a Rhone style blend called The Wolftrap. Composed of Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier, this wine is made by Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek, Western Cape.
About the Wine: This wine is a blend of three Rhone Varietals; Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. The 2012 vintage is composed of 67% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier. It has a bright ruby-red color with aromas of toasty oak and spicy ripe cherries on the nose. It is nicely balanced and has a smooth finish of cherry and raspberry along with some earthiness. The 2013 vintage (pictured) is a blend of the same three varietals but just slightly different at 66% Syrah, 32% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier. The 2013 vintage received a score of 88 points from Wine Spectator, and is priced at $11.
The Winery: Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776 in the Franschhoek Valley. In 1993 the estate was bought and the 22 hectares of vineyards were re-planted with varietals such as Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Semillon. Winemaker Mark Kent has helped Boekenhoutskloof see its reputation for producing quality wines grow significantly in the last 12 years.
The Region: Farms were first established in the Franschhoek Valley in 1687. The valley is surrounded by high mountains with the Berg river running through it. Most vineyards are planted on the valley floor, but many are now being planted on steep slopes with well-drained sandstone soils. One of the oldest vineyards in South Africa is located in Franschhoek, being planted in 1903. Franschhoek was a wine ward within the Paarl district until 2010. It is now its own district, with the most planted varietals being Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Other important varietals include Chardonnay, Merlot and Semillon.
If you are looking for a smooth, easy drinking Rhone style blend, I would recommend The Wolftrap. I’m looking forward to trying more wines by Boekenhoutskloof, as well as wines from other producers in the Franschhoek Valley.
Other producers to check out that make a fine Syrah would be Purple Star and Arbor Crest, both from Washington State. Purple Star is a Columbia Valley winery, and for this 2008 Syrah ($14, 13.9%) the grapes were from both the Whaluke Slope AVA and the Yakima Valley AVA. This wine had a smooth finish and aromas of blackberries and spicy vanilla. Arbor Crest makes an excellent Syrah as well, with the 2009 vintage ($24, 13.8%) being quite exceptional. This wine is made from Columbia Valley grapes sourced from 3 vineyards. It is full bodied with aromas of spicy blackberry and oak, and has a nice spicy finish as well. The 2010 vintage is also an excellent choice.
Now that spring has sprung, might as well enjoy it with a nice glass of syrah:)
I hope this Saturday has been good so far. I found a few interesting links and other news to pass along…
The wine market in Asia presents opportunity for growth, especially in China. Here’s an interesting article about Moet-Hennessy’s latest business venture there. The French Champagne producer has invested in vineyards in southwestern China, and the wines produced there will be sold in the Chinese domestic market. This has been a bit of a trend in recent years, as major wine brands have seen the booming Chinese economy as an excellent investment opportunity. I would have to agree, since China is a huge market, and getting your foot in the door there could potentially equal a nice lucrative return.
Here is a great article written by Graham Howe of the South African Wine Journal, about his recent trip to Argentina. This is a country I plan on getting to someday soon…
And here is a nice article about pruning and other maintenance in an organic vineyard, with some good pictures to go along with it.
If you are in the mood for syrah, but don’t feel like spending a whole lot of cash, there are some Washington State producers that make a pretty decent wine for a decent price. The other day I decided to try out a 2007 Syrah made by Snoqualmie. I have tried several of there wines, but never the syrah. I was impressed for what I got for $7. This wine had a nice tannic structure to it, with a pleasant nose of cherry with a hint of black licorice. It had a finish of spicy black cherry and a hint of blackberry with just the right amount of oak. The wine also had a bit of an earthiness to it that I liked. Another good syrah is the Columbia Crest 2 Vines Shiraz. For $6 this 2005 had a nice ruby red color to it with ripe blackberry and plum on the nose, and had a very jammy, fruity finish, almost reminiscent of an Australian Shiraz. Also, Covey Run puts out a Syrah that is a good value. This was also a 2005, and had hints of dark fruits and spice on the nose, with mild tannins & acids, and a decent fruity finish. Out of the three I think I liked the Covey Run the least, this bottle tasted like it may have been past its prime, but overall not a bad buy at $6.
Enjoy the weekend!