Selling for R275 a bottle, Leeuwenkuil Heritage Syrah 2012 was Wine Cellar director Roland Peens’s top wine of 2014 which is quite an endorsement (read more here).
What makes it special? Grapes come from a vineyard on schist soils on the southern slopes of Riebeek Mountain where Boekenhoutskloof, Mullineux-Leeu and Rupert are all apparently investing with Rudiger Gretschel, who’s head winemaker for Vinimark and has been instrumental in Reyneke’s rise to prominence, overseeing production.
It’s extraordinarily fragrant – red fruit, purple flowers, fynbos and spice but also a little earth and some reduction to keep things interesting. The palate shows great depth of flavour without being weighty, fresh acidity and nicely grippy tannins. A very poised wine – all component elements sitting very well together.
Is it a new benchmark? I think it’s more successful than Porseleinberg 2012 for instance on account of being less attenuated (it has a back-label abv of 14% compared to Porseleinberg’s 13.5%) but I’m not sure it’s a game-changer.
There are no obvious shortcomings but it does have whole-bunch ferment written all over it. Clever whole-bunch but whole-bunch nevertheless and Swartland winemakers may contend that they’re going this route for greater perfume and silkier tannins but basically the realisation has dawned that the Swartland is quite hot and whole-bunch gives their reds the impression of freshness that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Rather whole-bunch character than dead fruit, however.