Getting to Know Shiraz

Words: Karen Glanfield

Wine Concepts LB 728 x 90
How would I most often describe a Shiraz?  The big, the bold and the beautiful. With its international acclaim in Northern Rhone of France, and more recently in Australia, Shiraz is a grape increasing in popularity in South Africa and now has practically equal plantings to that of the ‘old time favourite’ Cabernet Sauvignon.

There is a long-term debate about the differences, or even similarities between Shiraz and Syrah. So what are they? Nothing, they are actually the same variety. Whilst there’s no legalese or official distinction behind which of these descriptors the wine farms may use, the basis is this: Old World style, slightly more austere, white pepper, smoky and mineral note wines with more tannin and acid on the finish would be referred to as Syrah.

Whereas New World style, warmer climate, bold, fruit forward, black and red berry and cloves spices would be called Shiraz. However, it quite often boils down to marketing.

Some estates believe consumers are more familiar with the word Shiraz and will thus call their wines such, whilst others think Syrah sounds more exotic and enticing and will label theirs such, not necessarily taking the style of the wine into account.

Wine snobs may think Shiraz will not go well with white meat but it is a wonderful accompaniment to roast duck and turkey with cranberry sauce. Other suggestions would include lamb, pork chops, roast beef, big beefy stews or a braai.

The spiciness of Shiraz is ideal to match the ‘gaminess’ of venison, or a dish with rich herb, garlic or pesto sauces such as pasta dishes. Finally, pair it with anything Mexican such as nachos or enchiladas which are packed with cheese and spice.

3 Things You Should Know About Shiraz

Shiraz adapts well to various climatic conditions performing well in both warmer regions, as well as cooler terroirs close to the coast or at altitude. Thus Shiraz vineyards are found in all the wine producing areas of South Africa.

There are more varietals of Shiraz than any other varietal wine in South Africa and numbers continue to increase.

Some Shiraz wines include a fashionable drop of Viognier or Mourvedre and, blends incorporating other varieties from Southern France and the Rhône area are increasing in popularity and number. The ability of the fruit to be blended with almost any other red wine makes it a firm favourite among winemakers and wine drinkers.

A Selection of Great South African Shiraz

Flagstone Dark Horse 2013

Shiraz grows like it wants to fly away. And the cautious farmer will mutter that nothing good will come from such a wild thing. But find the soil and climate to balance this effervescent nature and you have the chance of making something beautiful. The Dark Horse is Flagstone’s touchstone wine – their dreams reflected.

 WO Simonsberg
 ON THE NOSE Ripe blackcurrants and mulberry, supported by subtle spicy undertones of cinnamon and cloves.
 ON THE PALATE The complexity on the nose flows over to the palate. The wine is big and round on entry with smooth and silky tannins that show well even though the wine is still young. Flavours of ripe mulberry and rich dark chocolate lingers on the palate together with flavours of sweet spice and toasted oak.
 WE LOVE IT WITH Kudu Fillet with Couscous and A Red Wine Reduction

Rustenburg Buzzard Kloof Syrah

This wine is sourced from a unique vineyard site on the estate. Previously the “Rustenberg Stellenbosch Syrah”, the “Buzzard Kloof Syrah” is named for the Jackal and Steppe Buzzards, which can be seen circling the thermal currents that rise above the ravine (kloof), within which the Syrah vineyard is situated. Cultivation of Syrah at Rustenberg is relatively new, considering the Estate’s history, with the variety first being planted in the late 1990s on the property. The Buzzard Kloof vineyard site is planted in one of the coolest and least sun-exposed slopes on Rustenberg, resulting in a long, late ripening process.

 WINEMAKER Murray Barlow
 WO Simonsberg
 ON THE NOSE The wine exhibits an enticing nose of pepper, violets and ripe berry fruits.
 ON THE PALATE Gamey, spicy aromas and flavours showing more savoury than sweet fruit complexity with a solid tannin structure and full body.
 WE LOVE IT WITH Slow-Cooked Beef Ragú

Fram Shiraz

There is an old sign as you head into Riebeek Kasteel from Hermon that reads “Welcome to Shiraz country”. It was true many moons ago and is still just as true today. This wine is from a selection of vineyards around the Swartland, combining barrels from the granite sands in the Paardeberg with those from wines that came from the koffieklip soils west of Malmesbury. The vision at Fram is to make a wine that will focus on freshness, and show lively fruit, ranging from red cherry to the black savouriness of liquorice.

 WINEMAKER Thinius Krüger
 WO Paardeberg
 ON THE NOSE Fresh show of lively fruit, ranging from red cherry to the black savouriness of liquorice.
 ON THE PALATE Follows with smoky, fireplace embers and vibrant, fresh red cherry fruits. Graceful yet firm tannins frame the fruit beautifully.
 WE LOVE IT WITH Slow Braised Ox-Tail
 PRICE R129.50

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah is sourced from three different sites across the Swartland (Porseleinberg and Goldmine) and Wellington.The fruit from each site is vinified separately, as each parcel shows distinctive and individual characteristics. The grapes are partially de-stemmed and ferment spontaneously in concrete tanks with a soft délestage 2-3 times a day.Once cuvaison has been completed, the wine is moved to large traditional 2 500L foudres and 600L demi-muids for further ageing for up to 18 months, depending on the vintage.

 WO Franschhoek
 ON THE NOSE Loads of violets, blackcurrant fruit pastilles white and black pepper with jamon and petrichor adding to the complexity.
 ON THE PALATE The purity and depth of fruit, firm velvety tannins and refreshing acidity shows the massive ageing potential of this vintage. Textured, composed and seamless in style.
 WE LOVE IT WITH Oven Roasted Pork Loin

Wine Concepts LB 728 x 90

Hungry for more? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>