Guardian Peak Desert Lion 2004
By Christian Eedes, 7 February 2011
Guardian Peak Desert Lion 2004 is something of a collector’s item, though I didn’t realize it at the time of drinking. Served at lunch on Saturday, it came emblazoned with a sticker announcing success at the 2006 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show but when later consulting the relevant ICONS, official handbook of the competition, the wine profiled as the winner of the trophy for best Shiraz based red blend that year appears under the more familiar name of Guardian Peak Frontier.
Clearly one and the same wine, the Desert Lions back label corresponding to the info on Frontier in ICONS, and I guess I’m glad that the meaningless “Frontier” has subsequently prevailed over the naff “Desert Lion” (which presumably was used on export labels).
It emerges that Desert Lion/Frontier 2004 consists of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, 41% Shiraz from Durbanville and 12% Merlot, again from Stellenbosch. It was made by Louis Strydom, back when Guardian Peak was still a joint venture between golfer Ernie Els and Jean Engelbrecht of Rust en Vrede.
The Guardian Peak range has always been in a powerful, weighty style and my fear was that the Desert Lion/Frontier 2004 might prove quite tiring to drink. I have to say, though, it proved entirely seductive, its most winning attribute being great generosity of fruit, and while indeed rich and full, it was not entirely lacking in freshness.
What lies behind its being so easy to like? An opulent 4.2g/l residual sugar no doubt plays a role but equally it was matured for a relatively short period of 12 months in a combination of French and American oak, only 20% new and hence the fruit really gets to shine.