De Trafford Syrah 393 2011

De Trafford Syrah 393 2011


The red wines of De Trafford in Stellenbosch are usually pretty close to the red zone in terms of weight and power but the Syrah 393 2011 is off the scale. Juice underwent  spontaneous fermentation and maturation lasted 22 months in French oak, 50% new, the final wine clocking in at 16.17% alcohol.

On the nose, notes of malt, earth, tar and liquorice as well as blue and black fruit and a little spice. The palate, meanwhile, has great depth of flavour but the texture is thick and syrupy recalling balsamic vinegar. There’s a sweetness to the wine although it is not completely without tannic grip while the finish is hot. It was rated 96 points by James Molesworth of American publication Wine Spectator, the highest score ever awarded to a South African wine but for me it was a world apart and impossible to score. Wine Cellar price: R295 per 375ml bottle.

#WinemagRating: ?

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  1. JustinMay 23, 2016 at 9:53 pmReply

    So what is the winemag rating Christian? You can’t leave a ? on it forever

    • ChristianMay 24, 2016 at 5:25 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Justin, It defies a rating. It’s not faulty. Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth thinks its very good and lot of other people will do so, too. I can even see why Molesworth liked it (I later discovered his tasting note is not dissimilar to mine: The point for me is that a wine is a beverage and a crucial part of the conceptual definition of a beverage is that it should offer refreshment and this doesn’t.

  2. Kevin RMay 23, 2016 at 7:59 pmReply

    Hi Christian,

    Are there any up and coming/under appreciated producers that you would recommend Are Worth Trying Out?

    • ChristianMay 23, 2016 at 8:13 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Kevin R, Best Shiraz/Syrah I’ve had recently from emerging producers: Craven Faure Vineyard, Intellego, Lismore and Waterkloof Circumstance. Eagles’ Nest not that new on the scene but the 2013 is spectacular.

      • Kevin RMay 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        Hi Christian,

        The Eagle’s Nest 2007 and 2008 definitely made a statement. Thanks for the tips, will give those a try.

  3. LloydMay 23, 2016 at 9:22 amReply

    Hi Christian. Is that the highest score ever given to a SA red by Wine Spectator or by a publication/wine competition? I recall Mount Sutherland Syrah 2102 scoring 96 at the OMTWS, which has both local and international judges. Does that count? And which wine would you favour? Apples to apples? Syrah Syrah, whatever will be… Ahem.

    • ChristianMay 23, 2016 at 9:54 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Lloyd, Neal Martin of gave Vin de Constance 2007 a score of 97 but this was at a tasting hosted by the allegedly fraudulent and now defunct White Club so make of that what you will.

      Ratings by big-name international critics carry clout because they have global reach and local producers understandably place a lot of importance on getting their wines in front of them. Do OMTWS ratings count? As a regular taster at this competition, I’d like to think so but for me, it’s less about which wine got the highest rating ever on the 100-point scale and rather a constant process of evaluation and re-evaluation, a hierarchy of quality gradually emerging over time and of course bearing in mind that stylistic preferences are constantly in flux.

      As for your question as to which wine I would prefer between the De Trafford and the Mount Sutherland, the latter every time. Let it be noted, however, I’m generally a very big fan of De Trafford and Mount Sutherland is a new venture with little track record, though vineyards situated at 1500m above sea level in the Karoo do capture the imagination…

      • LloydMay 24, 2016 at 8:14 pm

        Thanks for your reply Christian. Yes, I suppose the International ratings do carry a bit more swag. I’m not sure if I’m looking as closely at some of those Hong Kong stickers though – perhaps they’ll like this sweeter offering. Might go down a treat with some sweet and sour Pork? Or perhaps poured over some ice cream? From your description, the high alc %, and the small bottle, it almost passes for a dessert wine.
        Have you tried Mount Sutherland’s Tempranillo yet Christian? Bit expensive but seems interesting.

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