Stellenzicht Plum Pudding Hill Syrah 2007

August 17, 2014
by Christian
in What I Drank Last Night
with 4 Comments
Bit of a bruiser.

Bit of a bruiser.

That the Syrah 1994 from Stellenbosch property Stellenzicht rated higher than the 1990 vintage of the iconic Grange Hermitage in the notorious SAA Shield tasting of 1995 which saw South Africa pitched against Australia has become the stuff of local wine legend (the wine gains further intrigue after incumbent winemaker Guy Webber reveals that according to the records, it included a small portion of Merlot).

That same 4ha block which produced the 1994 acquired official single vineyard status in 2006 and the 2007 vintage now re-named Plum Pudding Hill has just been released (R170 a bottle).

“It might not be the greatest Shiraz in the world but what it is, is an expression of an exceptional site,” says Webber. It’s big and burly (15.19% abv) as previous vintages have always tended to be – red and black fruit, pepper and spice, a touch of reduction. On the palate, it’s sweet fruited with moderate acidity and still possessing some tannic grip. Perhaps a bit out of fashion stylistically but then surely the whole point of single vineyards wines is about being true to the site rather than being “on trend”.

Score: 88/100.

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4 Comments

  1. ANDRE VAN RENSBURGNovember 9, 2015 at 5:15 pmReply

    1994 was my first vintage at Stellenzicht and I was pretty horrified at picking grapes – in those days -at 25 degrees Balling and in those days the conversion rate were really lower so that the final alc was a 14,4%. Therefore 14 % on the label. The 10 % Merlot was blended in for more fruit complexity and we aged the ’94 for 10 months in small oak followed by a further 8 months in 2500/5000 L wooden tanks before bottling.

  2. KwispedoorAugust 17, 2014 at 5:24 pmReply

    I’m with Tim on this one. That epic 1994 states 14% ABV on the label. And, generally, the more mature a vineyard becomes, the more concentrated the fruit will be at a similar potential alcohol, thus – generally – there’s less and less reason to over ripen. Maybe the vineyard is riddled with leafroll virus? I dunno, but I can’t really see how site is the reason for harvesting so much later than in 1994.

    • ChristianAugust 18, 2014 at 8:43 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Tim, Kwispedoor, I think a 14% would’ve been a pretty high abv back in 1994 – Michael Fridjhon relates that the wine was apparently omitted from the harvest schedule and remembered some days later when the grapes were “super-ripe”. Guy Webber freely admits that the block is now heavily virus infected but spurred by the wine’s not insignificant track record, the team has taken cuttings of what clean material remains with a view to future propagation. Pretty serious oak on the 2007 – 22 months in 100% new French.

  3. Tim JamesAugust 17, 2014 at 1:41 pmReply

    As far as I know the alcohol level of André van Rensburg’s famous 1994 Syrah was a degree or so less than is the case now – so I’m a bit sceptical about this “expression of a site” business. To my mind, modern Stellenzichts (I haven’t tasted this latest release) are generally expressive of stylistic choice rather than terroir – they speak, eg, much more of late picking dates as well as of oak (the 1994 had just 30% new barrels, I think – what’s this one?).
    It’s worth recalling, incidentally, that the 1994 was the first wine in SA to bear the name “Syrah” on the label – it was thanks to André’s application that syrah became accepted as an official synonym.

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