A lot at La Motte
A lot at La Motte

There are a couple of firsts worth remembering. Such as the first time you piled into a Soutie Bishops rugby-player with a good stiff-arm tackle. Ah, the crunch of bone. The agonized groan. The cry of the pissed-off parent calling you a “crazy Dutchman”.
Or what about the first time you heard Elvis and discovered that there is indeed a direct link between one’s hearing instrument and your groin? Then there was the first time you saw Marlon Brando acting in On the Waterfront, the scene between him and Rod Steiger in the taxi. “I could’ve been a contender…..”
On the wine side of firsts, I kind of remember the Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1998 as final conviction that wine really did have mystical powers that could envelope all the senses known to man, plus leading you to discover one or two you did not know you had. The KWV’s Perold 1998 had a similar effect, and was about the last time the KWV did anything worth mentioning.
Last week, another one of these experiences was poured in front of me.
We were parked in the beautiful Rupert Art Museum in Stellenbosch, surrounded by a lot of very nice paintings and stupendous sculptures. This the ideal setting to launch La Motte’s latest offering, namely the 2007 Pierneef Shiraz Grenache.
In this wine, winemaker Edmund Terblanche heads south in the Rh?+¦???+¦?+¦????ne canton, having already made a very lush Shiraz Viognier.
For the Shiraz Grenache angle, attendees were invited to first taste some building blocks with a Southern Rh?+¦???+¦?+¦????ne influence. Such as a minerally 2008 Cinsaut from the West Coast. A dastardly spicy 2008 Grenache from Darling. Mourv?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ëdre from Durbanville, a Carignan from the Swartland and a very solid yet restrained Wellington Shiraz completed the portfolio.
These were not labelled or bottled wines. Just wines in wood or tank from which Edmund would colour his palette for future releases.
For the new release, 53% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 17% Mourv?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ëdre was selected. And despite the profound presence of the latter variety, La Motte stuck with the Shiraz Grenache label rather than the pretty non-descript SMG, that sounds like a brand of ball-bearing.
The wine was presented next to a 2005 Gigondas (Domaine Les Palli?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦+ërs) and a 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Ch?+¦???+¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬teau Mont-Redon).
Although the La Motte was the only one of these three wines that was Shiraz dominated, it showed an exquisite Mediterranean poise. Liquorice and herbs and sun and a metallic hint of blood are all integrated in this wine which is the first time I personally have had a South African number with such an array of authentic European flavours. You taste it and you hear those insects screeching in the midday Provence sun, see old guys drinking pastis and hear the sounds of clacking boules on the village square. (Thankfully, Peter Mayle is nowhere in sight.)
It truly opened by eyes to South Africa’s immense potential, just as the Paul Sauer and Perold did those years ago.
I know the two French wines were poured purely to stimulate conversation and to serve as frame of reference, but being South African I was forced to make a comparison. Quite frankly, the La Motte Shiraz Grenache killed the Gigondas and Chateauneuf. Extraordinary, as the local wine was not only younger, but also had a the lowest alcohol level of the lot, this coming in at 13,5%.
Many present expressed an interest in tasting the same wine in five to six years time so as to assess the aging ability. It is a difficult call: can a magnificent wine like this get any better?

E Louw Joubert

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4 thoughts on “Brilliant!

  1. Great article Emile – we should never tire of tasting our best wines against the best from the world. Although some scoff at this as ‘grand-standing’ and an attempt to portray themselves in a good light – I say well done to La Motte and bravo for having the confidence to have themselves judged against the best. It is almost a fact that the best South African wines can stand proudly aginst the best of the world – now every producer worth their salt could or should be doing this on the international scene. We know our best wines are good – lets do more of these tastings abroad where our image needs the work. If you tell a credible story often enough – it will become acceptable – and possibly a stepping stone towards a non-floral USP for brand South Africa. (oh – thats really a whole other story)

  2. Bloody clutch plates! Enjoyed your column, particularly interested in the use of Viogner to “temper/complement” Shiraz.New trend? Also the tasting of lesser established grapes as a counterpoint. Good exercise no doubt!

  3. Hi Trevor. The Frogs have been doing the Shiraz-Viognier thing in the Northern Rhone. SA began cottoning on a few years back. It gives the Shiraz some perfume and floral bits. La Motte is great, but also check out Graham Beck the William. Thanks for writing.
    Emile Clutch Joubert

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