A tasting of six Shiraz-led red blends on behalf of Food & Home Entertaining magazine. The line-up was compiled at random, the minimum requirement being that all included should have impressed at some point in the past.
I reviewed the wines with James Pietersen, regular taster for Platter’s and beverage manager for Belthatzar and Balducci’s restaurants at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. We tasted blind with scoring done according to the 20-point system and here’s how the wines ranked (individual taster’s score below each wine):
1.Newton Johnson Syrah Mourvèdre 2007
93% Shiraz, 7% Mourvèdre. Red and black fruit on the nose and palate. Good line of acidity. Firm but fine tannins. Long finish. Great purity and restraint. A classy wine.
CE 18 JP 18
2. Fairview Caldera 2008
50% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 25% Shiraz. Red fruit, spice and fynbos on the nose. The palate is medium bodied with juicy fruit, fresh acidity and relatively soft tannins. Accessible now but rewarding. Wide flavour spectrum,very sexy.
CE 17 JP 17.5
3. Kevin Arnold Shiraz 2008
89% Syrah, 11% Mourvèdre. Complex nose showing red fruit, dried herbs and smoky, meaty notes. The palate displays great fruit expression with relatively soft tannins and gentle acidity.
CE 16 JP 16.5
4. Ormonde Theodore Eksteen 2008
65% Shiraz, 35% Grenache. Red fruit, earthiness and some licorice on the nose. The palate is rich and full with sweet juicy fruit and chunky tannins.
CE 15.5 JP 16.5
5. Spice Route Malabar 2006
64% Shiraz, 15% Mourvèdre, 9% Petite Syrah, 9% Grenache, 3% Tannat. Very ripe dark fruit and oak-derived vanilla on the nose. The palate is rich but balanced with concentrated fruit and smooth tannins. Opulent style.
CE 16 JP 15.5
6. La Motte Pierneef Collection Shiraz-Grenache 2007
53% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre. Shy nose showing hints of floral perfume and a slight herbaceous note. The palate is extremely elegant with flavours of dark fruit and some white pepper along with lemon-like acidity.
CE 15 JP 16
Generally a very exciting line-up but with Mourvèdre plantings amounting to just 373.2ha and Grenache 169,8ha at the end of 2009 (most recent figures available), there’s a natural cap on Rhône-variety blends for the meantime.