Stellenzicht Syrah 1994

The stuff of legend.

The lunch menu was determined in advance and the three couples attending had to bring wine to complement each of the courses.

As an aperitif, Drappier Quattuor, a Champagne composed of four white grape varieties, these being Chardonnay as well as the lesser known Arbanne, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meslier. Rich and exotic and just the thing to prepare the palate for great things to come.

For starters, herbed panna cotta served with grilled figs and prosciutto. The wines: Alphonse Mellot La Moussière Sancerre 2007, Cape Point Vineyards Isliedh 2005 and Chateau Smith Haut Lafite 2007. The La Moussière showed heady floral perfume and great fruit expression, the Isliedh was marked by its focus and precision, while the Smith Haut Lafite was rich and voluptuous. Three superlative wines, and  given Sauvignon Blanc’s prominent role in each of them, an emphatic riposte to those that argue that this variety is not a noble one.

The main Moroccan-style lamb shanks with fragrant rice and a Waldorf salad. The wines: Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2004, André Perret Les Grisières Saint Joseph 2004 and Peter Lehmann Stonewall Shiraz Barossa 2000 and Stellenzicht Syrah 1994. The two French wines were balanced and elegant, the Australian wine was rich and sweet and not very food friendly, the quite remarkable Stellenzicht was concentrated and textured and still in great nick 17 years after vintage.

To finish, a selection of soft French cheeses. The wines: Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2006 and Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 1999. The Fleur du Cap was poised and delicious, the Paul Cluver sadly a little past its best. Overall, however, a memorable repast and proof once again that South African wine can hold its own in any company.

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6 Comments

  1. KwispedoorMay 4, 2011 at 2:45 pmReply

    Us ‘normal’ people paid R70 – I got two bottles as a student (not normal people, come to think of it). My last bottle of it came second only to a 1995 Paul Sauer at a blow-out dinner a couple of years ago.

  2. angela lloydMay 4, 2011 at 9:25 amReply

    Wow, Tim – then I think you bought that Stellenzicht at a bargain price – I seem to remember paying R60 a bottle – afortune in those days. And just in case anyone wonders, the two wines that beat Andre’s syrah at that notorious event were first, Henschke Hill of Grace 1991 and second, Mount Langhi Ghiran Langi 1993. I was an associate judge on that show; with Oz Clarke as chair, we had much fun – more, I dare say than the official judges!

  3. Tim JamesMay 2, 2011 at 8:15 pmReply

    What a lovely lunch. In someone’s kitchen, I presume, seeing you don’t mention a restaurant in your typically rather laconic report (please let yourself go a bit!). Actually a Waldorf salad sounds somewhat excessive as an accompaniment to lamb. Let’s remember that Stellenzicht Syrah 1994 (made by Andre van Rensburg) was the first SA wine to be called Syrah rather than Shiraz. I remember buying a case of it from a retailer at an exorbitant R55 per bottle, and later selling most of that later to an American at something of a profit (I’d snootily decided that the wine was rather too showy for my taste – just perhaps I should have rather waited a while.)
    Also – two of the white wines you mention, rather than necessarily being “an emphatic riposte to those that argue that this variety is not a noble one”, suggest that sauvignon blanc is much improved with a bit of semillon, a recipe I fervently believe in!
    By the totally unconnected way, though possibly explaining my enthusiasm, I finished off my meal tonight with a glass or two of ten-year-old Rustenberg LBV (port) 2001, which Callie Louw, now at Boekenhoutkloof’s Porcelain Mountain estate in the Swartland, gave me (I think he helped make it; I’d never heard of it before). It was – is – delicious, though possibly more like creme de cassis than port (I would guess from this that is was made from cabernet, but I have no real idea, and must check).

  4. ChristianMay 2, 2011 at 6:00 pmReplyAuthor

    The provider of the Stellenzicht 1994 confessed that it had been “poorly stored”, i.e. had not had the benefit of proper cellaring. This, of course, is the wine whose reputation was made in the notorious SAA Shield tasting of 1995 that saw South Africa pitched against Australia. Local wines were badly shown up on the whole so it was no mean feat when it placed third in class. Not only was this a category that the Australians were supremely confident of winning outright by taking all of the top three places, the Stellenzicht wine rated better than the 1990 vintage of the iconic Grange Hermitage. I’ve been lucky enough to drink this wine fairly often and attest that this was an outstanding bottle – always gratifying when a wine shows well despite being kept under less than ideal conditions.

  5. KwispedoorMay 2, 2011 at 1:21 pmReply

    What’s the best way to remove saliva from a keyboard?

  6. angela lloydMay 2, 2011 at 12:34 pmReply

    Good news about the Stellenzicht; i’ve still got a couple of bottles. How had yours been stored, Christian? The bottle itself also look in good, clean nik.

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