La Motte kicked off its ambitions to become the country’s premier wine destination with an international Shiraz showcase, and I was there. Like most of the collected group of wine makers, marketers, hacks and VIP’s must have felt, it was a massive privilege to be part of this blue chip event, but I must admit, sitting down to 12 Shiraz wines at 09:00 made me feel like a farm boy in Latin class. Or a www.grape.co.za staff member at an unsighted co-operative Pinotage tasting.
The La Motte venue is absolutely spectacular. A huge statue of a woman dripping water as you enter. Emerald lawns. Sprawling al fresco dining area ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ dig the little stands where budding young Pierneefs can go paint while the folks take it easy. The artwork is pretty and colourful. Buildings whitewashed, thatched and more yellow-wood than in a Dalene Matthee Knysna novel.
Back to the wines. We were asked to taste 12 Shiraz numbers. South Africa. France. Australian. American. And for some or other reason an Italian also pitched in the line-up.
The tasting was blind, but a clear pattern emerged.
After the second Shiraz smelling of Deep Heat, I put my famous method of elimination into practice and deducted that these were Australian. The Brett pongs placed these in the French category. And wines showing oak were South African.
Hell knows where the Italians and the Americans fitted in, but fortunately the last time I looked guessing was not illegal.
When the results were announced, I was happy and relieved to discover I had not been far off.
The French wines – Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2006, M Chapoutier Hermitage L’Ermite 2006, Alain Voge Cornas Les Vieilles Fontaines 2006 and E Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline 2004 were mostly doughy and bretty, although the Chapoutier showed less than the rest. The cloying doughiness on the back palate is a sign of youth in Rh?+¦???+¦?+¦????ne wines, and if the selection panel had really wanted to even things out, a couple of wines from the 1990’s would have had the French kicking butt.
But this was not to be, and they did not show well.
The Bramasole Anintoni 2006 was truly ghastly and had more corrupt flavours than an exiled Mafia Don in Franschhoek. To all the Italians out there: I promise not to embrace female underarm hair if you promise to stay clear of Shiraz.
This left South Africa and Oz delivering the best wines of the day.
Call me easily impressed, but the Penfolds Grange 2004 was a stunner and one of my top three wines. Still tight and austere in its youth, it had a brooding bloodiness about it that spelt trouble of the exciting, dangerous,kind. The Geoff Merrill Henley Shiraz 2004, voted as Wine of the Day, had a tuning-fork clarity and freshness about it that was startling. It was also devoid of the Deep Heat and stained jock-strap character the other Oz wines had.
The best two wines in the line-up were South Africa. The La Motte Shiraz/Viognier 2007 was all perfume and muscle, with enough length to lasso a Mustang with. The Eagle’s Nest 2007 had a deceptively cheapish Mocha nose, but it was mouth-filling and sensual. Graceful and truly delicious.
The Boekenhoutskloof 2005 had not aged well and seemed tired, listless and out of it. And how about Alban Vineyards Syrah 2006? All of 42 months in oak, oxidised, jammy and all of 98 Parker points? It was like licking a raspberry jam jar a dog had pissed in.
Conclusion? South Africa is making some killer Shiraz. French wines should be not be opened young. And if they come to the party, the Oz wines are still to be reckoned with.
1 Eagle’s Nest 2007
2 Hill of Grace 2004
3 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2006
4 Bramasole Anintoni 2006
5 Penfolds Grange 2004
6 M Chapoutier Hermitage L’Ermite 2006
7 La Motte Pierneef Shiraz/Viognier 2007
8 Geoff Merrill Henley Shiraz 2004
9 Alain Voge Cornas Les Vieilles Fontaines 2006
10 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2005
11 E Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline 2004
12 Alban Vineyards Syrah 2006
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