UK restaurant critic A.A. Gill once observed that “(c)ritics may well be like eunuchs in a harem who know how it’s done, having seen it done every day, they just don’t fancy having it done to them”. And, I’m afraid, the Cat’s Tail Syrah 2012 from Lomond in Gansbaai needs to get done.
Winner of the International Trophy for Red Rhône Varietals under ₤15 a bottle at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards (and rated 4½ Stars in the current edition of Platter’s), it flatters to deceive. Matured for 18 months in French oak, 100% new, it has an abv of 15.17% and it’s precisely the kind of wine that gives competitions a bad name.
There’s borderline over-ripe fruit, plenty of oak character and if you look really hard, some varietal specific spice. It lacks shape and form and is demonstrably hot on the finish. “Under ₤15” might position it as a bargain in the UK but at R272 a bottle, it’s top end locally and if your budget stretches this far, there are plenty of better options.