A Moment of Provenance

Judging a Shiraz category ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ especially of the New World’s wines,?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ must be a somewhat thunderous onslaught on the senses. High tannins, volcanic alcohols and enough wood to use in a Viagra advertisement are not favourable to the myriad senses wine judges need to employ. This year’s Global Trader Wine Magazine Shiraz Challenge placed 184 wines before the panel, and if I were allowed an opinion I think they did very well.

The winner came from Saronsberg, that arty estate in cool, trembling Tulbagh. But not the farm’s hum-dinger top-end wine that has made a habit of attracting gold stickers. No, this year Saronsberg trumped with its Provenance 2007, a wine made from a different part of the farm to its first line Shiraz.

The Provenance is the wine bearing the colourful Paul du Toit artwork, art being one of the passions driving Saronsberg owner Nick van Huyssteen. And the wine is as refreshing as the label.

Some of this refreshment is literal. The Provenance is far removed from the cloying Shiraz monsters that were de rigeur a few years back. That’s the way Shiraz wines were judged: stick a teaspoon in the glass and if it remains upright, it’s in with a shout.

Although its alcohol of 15% is not for sissies, the Provenance is remarkably restrained and finely textured. The glimpse of minerality is surprising as the grapes are grown on Saronsberg’s clay soils which are more conducive to structure. But with 30% of the Provenance’s Shiraz fruit carted in from other regions, inter alia Malmesbury, I expect that this outside influence brought in the gravelly, flinty nuances detected in the wine.

It is a pity that this wine’s detractors, such as the crowd who annually trash Wine’s Shiraz results, are not capable of detecting the influence of the soils on this wine so as to participate in the narrative.

Furthermore, the wine’s perfume is apparent, yet not in sluttish way. There is no heat on the palate, and can’t help smiling when I think how much the Provenance expresses the impression created by Saronsberg winemaker Dewaldt Heyns. Cool and calm, but with an underlying power.

But enough wine-speak bullshit. This is delicious Shiraz. I’m stocking up, and at under R100 it would be a sin not to.

Emile Joubert

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2 thoughts on “A Moment of Provenance

  1. No matter what some of the opinionated winesnob-pricks out there have to say about Saronsberg and Tulbagh, they have proved themselves to be one of the countries absolute leaders with the variety. Now, if we could just get Dewald to smile a bit more often……………

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