Chris Groenewald was in town, bringing nine South African Syrahs with him. So a crowd of us gathered over lunch at The Drapers Arms to taste and drink. These are my notes, mostly written blind. It was a great set of wines.
Scions of Sinai Syrah 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Fresh, with just 12.5% alcohol, but I would have expected a bit more from this. This is ripe, meaty and spicy with some raspberry and cherry notes. There’s a hint of blood and iodine, too. Angular and savoury with a slightly sour finish. 90/100
Craven Firs Vineyard Syrah 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
A lovely restrained Syrah with 12.5% alcohol. This has some sweet meaty, spicy notes on the nose. Fresh with firm tannins and nice grippy structure, with some savoury notes. Compact and restrained with lovely cherry and plum notes. Vibrant, grippy and focused. 93/100
Terracura 2016 Swartland, South Africa
You can taste the drought year here: this is meatier and richer than I was expecting. Meaty, smoky, spicy black fruits nose. Fresh palate with sweet cherry and berry fruits with a nice mid palate richness. Savoury, meaty and spicy with firm structure. Very tannic with some peppery notes. Lovely weight. 93/100
Sons of Sugarland Syrah SH99 2018 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This was fermented and aged in concrete, no oak. Meaty and peppery, with a blackberry and blackcurrant nose. Has lovely intensity with a hint of olive. Meaty, peppery palate. Direct and sweetly fruited with lovely structure. Floral and delicious. 96/100
Von Loggerenberg Syrah Graft 2018 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This comes from the same vineyard as the Sons of Sugarland in the Polkadraai Hills, but it’s made differently. It’s fresh and savoury with restrained, taut red cherry and raspberry fruit. Has lovely tight structure and freshness. Juicy and bright with good structure. Serious: there’s a new Stockinger barrel in play here but the oak is very subtle. 94/100
Savage The Girl Next Door Syrah 2017 South Africa
Rich and dense with sweet fruit. Concentrated yet restrained with sweet black cherries and nice peppery notes. Generous, dense and rich but with good structure and gravelly undertones. Serious effort. 95/100
Porseleinberg 2016 Swartland, South Africa
Concentrated and dense with expressive black cherry and blackberry fruit. Great concentration of sweet, lush fruit with richness and some inky depth. Concentrated and very ripe – I suspect this is about the drought year of 2016, rather than a style choice. 94/100
Mullineux Syrah Schist 2016 Swartland, South Africa
This is compact with sweet black and red cherry notes, as well as some raspberry brightness. This has generosity and richness, but also nice structure. Fine grained with lovely fruit intensity. 93/100
Boschkloof Epilogue 2017 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Lovely floral nose with black cherries and black pepper. The palate is ripe and salty with fresh fruit and nice richness. Amazing precision despite the ripeness, with perfume and texture. Compact finish. 95/100
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3 thoughts on “South African Syrah: blind tasting nine of the best”
Sounds like there’s some interesting Syrah going on down there. Off the top of your head what do you think the median UK sale price would be on these?
Most are around 20-25
true what you say about the 2016 vintage. dry hot conditions led to concentrated wines. 2017 was much better with cooler growing season with higher natural acidity. 2018 again a difficult vintage but perhaps still too early to call it.