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Scali Syrah 2008

From the wrong side of the tracks?
From the wrong side of the tracks?

I nominated the Syrah 2008 from Scali in the Voor-Paardeberg for 5 Stars in the 2012 edition of Platter’s but unfortunately my colleagues didn’t agree with me. Be that as it may, I’m happy to report a bottle opened last night showed beautifully.

Typical Syrah aromatics of red and black fruit, fynbos and a slight meatiness. Good palate weight – the wine has an abv of 14.5% so it’s not without heft  – but tangy, lemon-like acidity ensures balance. What was striking is how little development the wine shows – the fruit definition is still really good. Maturation was 24 months in French oak, 20% new and there’s some deft winemaking here. I was given cause to wonder: If Scali was WO Swartland, would it enjoy a higher profile?

Score: 93/100.


  1. I am not sure it is because of not being WO Swartland. Voor-Paardeberg is Swartland, most connaiseurs will know. It is because Willie and Tania work hard, are modest and have a big family. Leaves little time for marketing.
    But I love them and their wines and will drink a bottle syrah 2008 tomorrow to toast on their succes and hapiness.

  2. Hi there, I’ve been following this brand from the Voor Paardeberg with great interest since I first tried one of their wines.
    I tasted the Pinotage 2000 first, and this lead to sampling the Syrah and delicious white blend too. I see that a Methode Ancestral wine is now being made as well- an exciting new development in sparkling wine following suite with Vondeling (also Voor Paardeberg), Badenhorst, Lammershoek, Dragonridge and a few other Swartland producers.
    I work in the wine trade and I know that these wines are held in great esteem by a number of Sommeliers and beverage people working in the local Cape Town trade.
    I have always been surprised as to the relatively scarce distribution of the wines between the more discerning wine destinations (Restaurant and retail) in Cape Town and the winelands in particular.
    Brand Swartland has done exceedingly well in generating an image, and perception of a combination of edginess, quality and excellence in the local market and local wine trade together. This perception permeates into the international market as well. Recently, visiting international wine fundi Jancis Robinson’s first port of call was the Swartland and her focus was ever- so- slightly West- coasterly when she experienced and tasted through our wines. The perception comes assured though- as quality is indeed very consistent.
    In terms of the market, would brand Scali enjoy a higher profile if it was packaged WO Swartland? To the new wine buyer, these wines would list at between R150.00 and R300.00 on a wine store shelf. The quality assurance already associated with brand Swartland would entice the unacquainted buyer to purchase the wine over a wine from a lesser known area like the Voor Paardeberg. Without floor staff punting the wine on the shop floor, the brand would undoubtedly experience slower growth than if it was branded, ‘Swartland’. In restaurants, these wines list between R250.00 and R650.00 on a menu. I have no doubt that the branding would benefit the wines here as well, but to a lesser degree than at a retail level.
    My experience in the local wine trade has assured me of the significant power brand Swartland carries with it. 2 renowned restaurateurs recently complained to me that their Sommeliers should basically label their wine lists, ‘Swartland wine lists’ due to the heavy influx of west coast wines into their cellars.
    My observations here are bound to 2 factors though. Due to the nature of the products, and costs involved, they are limited to a certain market, and a limited number of outlets attracting that market. In order to access that market and build brand presence, WO Swartland would benefit Scali for the purpose of better market presence- without a doubt.
    Other Voor Paardeberg producers are not limited to the same trade and market factors (due to pricing, volumes, larger portfolio’s), and it in fact favours them that they have some exclusivity in being from a smaller area.


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