Saxenburg Shiraz Select 2005

Fiona Bührer, daughter of Saxenburg owners Adrian and Birgit.

Fiona Bührer, daughter of Saxenburg owners Adrian and Birgit.

Stellenbosch property Saxenburg today released the 2005 vintage of its deluxe Shiraz Select, the wine selling for R650 a bottle from the farm. That might sound pricy but it’s already got big endorsement by way of a 5-Star rating in the current edition of Platter’s while production was capped at 250 cases meaning it’s not exactly ubiquitous.

It’s worth considering the phenomenon that is SSS: maiden vintage was 1998, predating such wines as Columella, Waterford The Jem and Vergelegen V and thus it might be thought of South Africa’s first deliberate attempt at an icon wine. The ’98 duly rated 5 Stars in Platter’s 2001 as did the ’03 in 2007. No ’99 or’04 were released as these were deemed not up to scratch.

The ’05 is one of those wines that impresses with its intensity but you do wonder if it’s that much better than the one-tier-down Private Collection Shiraz, itself no mean effort with the ‘03 having won the WINE’s Shiraz Challenge in 2006 and the ‘00 rating 5 Stars 10 years after vintage in the April issue of the magazine.  The currently available ‘06 goes for R136 a bottle from the farm, which means nearly five bottles of PC for every one bottle of SSS.

At the launch function lunch, SSS ’01 was served and again it was all about weight and power. The ever candid winemaker Nico van der Merwe was happy to supply a taste of the Private Collection ’01 and this seemed to have greater poise and finesse in comparison. For all Van der Merwe’s undoubted skill, does he over-reach himself with SSS? It strikes me that this is something of a recurring theme: Galpin Peak Pinot Noir from Bouchard Finlayson is often more rewarding than the grander Tête de Cuvée as is Vergelegen Estate Red relative to Vergelegen V.

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