jamie goode's wine blog: An excellent Syrah from South Africa

Thursday, July 03, 2008

An excellent Syrah from South Africa

Julien Schaal is a young winemaker from Alsace who also makes wine in South Africa. His home in the Cape is the Newton Johnson winery in Hermanus, but the grapes for this excellent Syrah come from Elgin, a cool-climate area not all that far away. It's really one of the best Syrahs I've tried from South Africa - perhaps not quite up to the Foundry, TMV or Columella level, but not far off. I picked it up today at Handford Wines on the Old Brompton Road, where it was recommended to me by Greg Sherwood MW. Handford are doing good work: they've got a really good selection of wines in at the moment. I was impressed.

Julien Schaal 'African Dream' Syrah 2005 Western Cape, South Africa
From a vineyard in Elgin, this is made by a French winemaker and matured in 900 litre French oak barrels, and it's really good. The nose is sweet and ripe with dark cherry and blackberry fruit framed by a subtly roasted, spicy character, as well as a bit of meatiness. The palate combines lush fruit with spicy definition, as well as bright acidity. It's very ripe, but minerally and fresh with it. I wouldn't go so far as to call it Rhone-like, as some has done. It's more like an elegant take on Barossa Valley. Finishes fresh. Great value for money, this. 91/100 (9.99 Handford Wines)

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