Refined elegance in a bottle… I opened this cool-climate Syrah 2017 vintage by Elgin Vintners over the weekend and what struck me first was the bottle shape. It’s super sophisticated shape is something that you do not come by very often in South Africa and the label screams old-world charm. It’s R180 a bottle which I think is rather good for a wine of this vintage and quality. It comes with a wax seal.
If all of that wasn’t enough, this wine is made by a wonderful women winemaker – Marinda Kruger-Claassen – whom I had the opportunity to interview live on Pinot Noir.
This particular vintage of Syrah is awarded! So it’s not just me that thinks it’s rather good. Elgin Vintners Syrah 2017 was awarded Gold in the Sommelier Wine Awards recently – the only wine competition in the UK focused exclusively on wines for the hospitality trade.
The competition is judged by leading sommeliers and on-trade wine buyers, including Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine, and the results are used as a key reference by wine buyers for UK restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars in one of the largest markets for South African wine.
Grown in South Africa’s coolest winemaking region, Elgin Vintners Syrah 2017 was one of just 27 South African wines awarded Gold, out of more than 2,100 medal winners from across the world, with the judges praising it as “brilliantly put together”.
Elgin Vintners winemaker Marinda Kruger-Claassen said the Elgin Valley’s unique combination of elevation and maritime influence produced grapes that ripened slowly and evenly, with concentration and complexity in the fruit flavours, making them particularly good wines with food, as highlighted in this competition.
Elgin Vintners Syrah 2017 has new packaging to reflect its particular character and origin, the label showing the views and cypress trees of the west-facing slope of the winery’s Syrah vineyards.
TERROIR & VITICULTURE
This is a cool area, situated 12-20 km from the sea, with mean February (ripening stage) temperatures of 19-20°C. Soils are predominantly ferruginous (iron-rich) gravel on highly weathered, soft Bokkeveld Group shale, situated at 200-300 m altitude and surrounded by Table Mountain sandstone at heights of about 500-1,000m, sheltering the area from the often extremely strong south-easterly winds in summer.
This vintage is a combination of 3 clones SH22, SH99, and SH9, planted on the west-facing slopes, elevation 290 m above sea level on Tukulu, and Pinedene gravelly loam.
At the winery, the grapes where only destalked but not crushed. Whole berry fermentation took place in stainless steel tank. Punch downs, twice daily, were done during the first 3 days of fermentation, thereaf- ter, pump overs only once per day. Delestagé was done twice during fermentation. The second stage of the winemaking process, malolactic conversion, was completed after the wine was put to barrel. Maturated in 225L French oak barrels for 18 months.
Ripe dark fruit with smoky and herbaceous notes. Fresh and crunchy fruit, tart cranberries, blackcurrants and bramble and ending with notes of chocolate and sweet spice on the palate. This wine shows good oak integration and cool-climate elegance.
After tasting it myself, I can definitely pick up the herbaceousness of this wine and yet the wine had rather a smooth tannin structure on the palate. A full-bodied wine with a taste that lingers and would be fabulous with a winter stew this time of year.
As a general rule, Syrah pairs very well with grilled meats. Also try Lamb Shawarma or Gyros, or a hearty Greek Moussaka made with ample warm spices.
I would actually recommend this wine with a seared and peppered salmon steak with asparagus on the side and a drizzle of wasabi infused soy sauce. Rather weird if you ask me but I am trying that right now and I love it.
The wine is priced at R180 at the cellar door which is really rather good for a wine of this vintage and style. For more information visit www.elginvintners.co.za