To mark Carl Schultz’s 20th anniversary as winemaker at Hartenberg in Stellenbosch, a tasting of six vintages of the ultra-premium Grave Hill Shiraz. From a particular 3.8ha site planted on low-potential koffieklip, vines give few bunches, the berries unusually small. The vineyard is picked over a broad two or three week period to accommodate variations in soil and elevation. “I’ve long since discarded the notion of homogeneity – I want as many different parcels as possible to work with,” says Schultz. Final volumes of Gravel Hill vary significantly depending on vintage.
Red fruit, spice and some developed forest floor, meaty notes. Rich and broad, soft but sufficient acidity, tannins nicely resolved.
A brooding nose showing earthy, malty notes. On the palate, dark fruit and black pepper. A wine of impressive concentration and power – full but balanced, bright acidity, smooth tannins.
Black fruit and plenty of spice on the nose and palate. Less imposing but equally less layered than the other vintages on display. Well balanced with fresh acidity and fine tannins.
A touch of shoe polish on an otherwise shy nose. Still remarkably primary with well-defined black fruit, bright acidity and a very dry finish. Big but expertly put together.
Ultra-ripe red and black fruit as well as an oak-derived coffee note on the nose and palate. Also some developed character already in evidence. Relatively lacking in definition, moderate acidity, soft tannins.
Pitch black with an intensely red rim. Red and black fruit, plus spice including cinnamon and coriander seed. Very pure fruit, oak carefully judged. Great definition and freshness, wonderfully fine tannins. Plenty of grunt but everything coming together for good.
2005, 2006 and 2007 currently all on special from the farm at R450 a bottle (normal price: R675).