Spier Frans K Smit 2009

Daisy cutter.

Daisy cutter.

Stylistic trends may well be overtaking the Frans K Smit, the top-end red blend from Spier. Maiden vintage being 2004, the winemaking approach has always been particularly brazen with highly concentrated fruit and lashings of new oak and this worked for a while with both the 2005 and 2006 being rated 5 Stars in Platter’s.

The 2009 has just been released at R745 a bottle and it’s again gigantic. A blend of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Shiraz and 14% Pinotage, it was matured for 31 months in French oak, 100% new [apparently only 50% new according to different information supplied subsequent to publication]. Alcohol by volume is 15.12% and residual sugar 4.2g/l…

For all its power, it’s meticulously made as you would expect from this cellar. Red and black berries, earth, spice but also overt oak-derived notes of vanilla and cocoa powder. There’s a really good core of fruit here and it’s not without freshness but there’s no escaping the tannins and ultimately hard work to drink.

The question is: who is the target market for this wine? If you want something in a modern vein but with much more balance, then look no further than the Spier Woolworths The Hutton Single Vineyard 2012, Top 10 in the Christian Eedes Cabernet Report 2014 and best in class at this year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show.

Score for Frans K Smit 2009: 91/100.

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  1. Mark EdwardJune 6, 2015 at 5:49 pmReply

    Thanks for the scoring discipline. In a world of grade inflation, you stand out like a beacon of hope!

  2. jonnieJune 5, 2015 at 8:15 amReply

    Hi Christian,

    Quite a price tag for a score of 91/100. On that subject, is there any chance of further explanation of your scoring breakdown and reasons therein.
    It would help some of us without an uber Eedes palate ‘get it’ a little bit more.



    • ChristianJune 5, 2015 at 9:58 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Jonnie, Here’s how I understand the 100-point system:

      96 – 100: Extraordinary. Profound.
      93 – 95: Outstanding.
      90 – 92: Excellent.
      86 – 89: Very good – may represent a bargain depending on the price point.
      83 – 85: Above average.
      80 – 82: Fair – pleasant enough but not very exciting.
      Below 80: Poor – plain and simple. Look elsewhere.

      I try to use it more or less in line with how Robert Parker originally conceived it but would like to be viewed as a conservative taster – some critics equate a score 95/100 with gold medal/5 Star status and then dish this out on a fairly regular basis whereas I think a score of 93 is pretty fantastic and there are simply not that many wines at 95 points and higher anywhere in the world, let alone South Africa.

      Conversely, sometimes a wine (like the Frans K Smit) compels me to give it a relatively high score because it’s technically accomplished even though it’s not particularly to my taste. Quality relative to price then becomes an issue but that’s normally pretty easy for the consumer to work out.

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