There were 25 examples of Shiraz/Syrah nominated for 5 Stars in Platter’s 2015 and it fell to Grape.co.za founder Tim James, sommelier-at-large Higgo Jacobs and me tasting blind to either endorse these or not.
Wine assessment is often humbling and particularly so in this instance. Out of the five wines we as a trio anointed as worthy of 5 Stars, two were wines about which I’d expressed significant reservations previously on this website, the Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2012 described as “extremely polished” (code for “overdone”) and scoring 90/100 here and the Porseleinberg 2012 having “something ever so slightly peculiar on the back palate” and scoring 91/100 here.
I feel even more awkward having now drunk a bottle of the De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 (approximate retail price: R500 a bottle), not only rated 5 Stars but red wine of the year in Platter’s.
Grapes are sourced mainly from the neighbouring Keermont farm. In the cellar, spontaneous fermentation, the cap punched down manually two to three times a day for around 16 days and maturation lasting 21 months in French oak, none new.
Whatever I thought about it at the taste-off for Platter’s, I found it absolutely gigantic last night. Black and blue fruit, pepper, earth and a slight malty quality. Über-intense on the palate with moderate acidity and oh-so-soft tannins. And there’s definitely some warmth on the finish if not outright alcoholic burn (abv 14.76%).
Winemaker David Trafford has always been unapologetic about his aesthetic vision (which might be paraphrased as “scale doesn’t matter as long as it’s in proportion”) and his reds have an uncanny ability to mature beautifully (is it the alcohol acting as preservative?). All that said, the Blueprint 2012 is heady stuff and having spent time with it over a meal, I think all that concentration is ultimately at the expense of balance.