I chaired the panel that judged Shiraz at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show this year and when I later discovered that the Mount Sutherland Syrah 2012 was not only best in class but best red wine overall at the competition, I’ll confess to more than a little self-doubt. From extreme vineyards with little track-record, this was not an expected result. What, as judges, had we wrought?
It turns out that Mount Sutherland came about as a result of Daniël de Waal’s desire to replicate the cool continental vineyards of Europe – plantings are on a sheep farm near the Karoo town of Sutherland, 1 500m above sea level and 350km from the Indian Ocean.
The 2012 looked smashing when it was shown at the Trophy Wine Show public tasting in Cape Town but it’s the 2011 which is currently available to the general public and I recently picked up a bottle for R190 at Wine @ The Mill in Woodstock.
Red and black fruit, pepper plus some subtle smoky, meaty notes. Well defined fruit, lemon-like acidity with fine but still nicely grippy tannins. Classically styled (abv 14% and matured for 15 months in French oak, 20% new). Exciting and unusual – not as rich and ripe as Stellenbosch Shiraz nor as stalky as new-wave Swartland.