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Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2014

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Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2014
Heavy artillery.

Boekenhoutskloof acquired two Swartland properties (Porseleinberg and Goldmine) a few years ago and these supply 60% of the fruit for the 2014 vintage of the cellar’s acclaimed Syrah, the traditional Wellington vineyard the remaining 40%.

Fermentation occurs spontaneously in concrete tanks while maturation lasts some 18 months in a combination of 600-litre barrels and 2 500-litre foudres. The nose of the 2014 shows red and black fruit, some floral perfume and scrub but also some smokiness, black olive and earth. It’s rich and dense on the palate – just enough acidity, fine tannins, the finish long and savoury. A very polished offering.

#WinemagRating: 92/100.

Find our South African wine ratings database here.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Christian. Interesting to read that you gave the Boekenhoutskloof and Wrightman, Gouws and Clarke pinotage (light and best served chilled) the same score. Are they the same quality wine then? If not how can they recieve the same score? If they are well done to the pinotage. I am sure Boekenhoutskloof would be dissapointed then. Looking forward to your answer. Thank you. Elias

    • Hi Elias, Wine scores must surely take into account stylistic genre as much as fundamental quality. I like the thought attributable to the great Hugh Johnson I came across recently that there isn’t one kind of perfection when it comes to wine – a perfect Beaujolais is going to be different to a perfect Cab and so on.

  2. Hi thank you Christian. So basically, although different, you still see them as the same quality? Or maybe the pinotage outstanding for its style and the Boekenhoutskloof an incomplete example of syrah?

  3. Wow. This is a can of worms, isn’t it? I’m pleased to learn that at least Elias shares my confusion. It seems you’re saying, Christian, that your scores don’t mean anything except in a very particular context? If so, shouldn’t you make it clear, each time you give a score, which of the myriad possible contexts (“stylistic genres”) you are invoking?

    What, for example, is the (“stylistic genre”) of the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah according to which you were rating it? How different a genre is it from, for example, the Mother Rock Syrah which you recently awarded 95 points? (They don’t seem to me very similar in any generic way.) Was the score for the Mother Rock as a “natural” shiraz and the score for the Boekenhoutskloof as a “conventional” shiraz? Or do you regard them as being in the same genre because they’re both without new oak influence? Or what? Is it wrong to assume that you think the Mother Rock a much better wine than the Boekenhoutskloof?

    The possibilities are endless, but as you’re scoring the wines according to “stylistic genre”, I really think you need to fully elucidate your approach. Especially as your guide to your rating system doesn’t indicate anything of this – it seems to refer only to what you here call “fundamental quality” (a concept that certainly eludes me). What qualities are not fundamental?

    • Hi Tim, I’m not sure what is so problematic about the two wines in question getting the same score. “Fundamental quality” refers to the non-negotiables of wine appreciation like balance (are fruit, acidity and tannins in harmony?) and complexity (is the wine intricate and worthy of contemplation as opposed to simple and easily understood?). I would also hope “stylistic genre” is not that cryptic – there’s general consensus that Beethoven and Elvis were both accomplished in the field of music with it becoming a little silly to position one above the other precisely because the contexts in which they worked were so different.

      To elucidate on the Wightman, Gouws and Clarke as opposed to the Boekenhoutskloof: I think I have gone some way to clarify context in the case of the former by referring to it as “most definitely new wave in style” while I’m assuming most of my readers will have their own fix on where Boekenhoutskloof fits in the market place but suffice to say, it is a much more ambitious wine than the W, G & C.

      It is at this point that I like Johnson’s observation that there isn’t one kind of perfection for wine (and, by extension, music or any other cultural endeavour). The W,G & C drinks really well as a “light red” next to Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and the Boekenhoutskloof is intended (and taken) as something more demanding.

      Do I think the Boekenhoutskloof is poorer than the Mother Rock? Well, I certainly don’t think that the Boekenhoutskloof is ordinary as a score of 92 presumably communicates but I do think that the Mother Rock has more delicacy, zest and lightness of touch and hence its 95.

      • I’m definitely going to stop reading blogs on wine scoring. It all becomes rather tiring really. We can’t all agree on whether we prefer Platter, MF, TJ, RP, Decanter or CE and a myriad others’ opinions on wines. Wine scores and ratings have a definite place in assisting a non-expert like myself in finding decent wines that suit my palate and pocket. I am for instance not a fan of Platter but still buy it each year as a reference point. I have more luck with wines rated on this site because I read the rating and the description (and price!) and decide whether the wine is for me or not and almost always get “lucky”. So here’s to wine scoring and a raspberry to scoring criticism! Happy drinking!

  4. Hi Christian. No problem at all. I’m just an avid reader of your blog and by giving the two wines is question the same score, on an international scale of quality, confused me.

  5. It seems to me that the absurd concept of scoring wine is beginning to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. Hopefully the allocation of a numeric score to wines will just be a rather odd stage that wine appreciation and discussion must necessarily pass through.

  6. I think Johnson’s point about different perfections doesn’t have much to do with scoring – in fact quite the opposite. I might boil an egg perfectly, but few judges would give me the same score for it as they’d give one of Luke Dale-Roberts’ more elaborate creations. The classic case in wine has always been German riesling, where a perfect Kabinett “couldn’t” score as much as a perfect Auslese. To me, Johnson’s observation points to the absurdity of scoring wines as though there are absolutes, especially out of context.

  7. Not sure why the fuss on the comments… a concise summary, descriptive wording many will understand it is a brilliant guide for purchasing.
    If a newcomer to wine came across this review/blog they would find it inviting enough to go try a bottle. That is until scrolling down and discovering industry wino bore.

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