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Solms Delta Africana 2008 vs. Cirrus Syrah 2006

Solms Delta Africana 2008
Solms Delta Africana 2008

With hearty cassoulet on the menu for Sunday lunch, I thought the wines could afford to be on the more robust side. I put Solms Delta Africana 2008 (Shiraz desiccated on the vine) and Cirrus Syrah 2006 up against each other in a sort of vinous clash of the titans.

The Africana proved a bemusing number with overt raisined note on the nose (as might have been expected) which followed through to the palate before the tangy, almost tart acidity kicked in. According to the wine’s back label, it has a relatively low alcohol by volume of 13.5% which seems counter-intuitive given the production method. Turns out that the residual sugar is a whopping 10.6 g/ml so you imagine that the wine is not fermented dry in order to keep the alcohol level from becoming silly. It’s an ultra-premium offering selling for R174 a bottle from the cellar in Paarl and is generally highly regarded (4½ Stars for the 2007 in Platter’s 2010) so perhaps I’m missing something…

Cirrus Syrah 2006
Cirrus Syrah 2006

On to the Cirrus Syrah 2006, itself a big-ticket item going for R210 a bottle from Ernie Els Wines in Stellenbosch. A blend of 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier with a declared alcohol by volume of 15%, it’s a wine that I have struggled with before, notwithstanding the gold medal it won at the 2008 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. My feeling until now has been that it comes across as a little too premeditated but I enjoyed it this time around, with it presenting as rich and full with succulent fruit and smooth, gentle tannins. Paired with the cassoulet, it proved a great way to fend off the Cape winter.


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