I say Syrah, you say Shiraz
South Africans love Shiraz – so much so it is worth having an annual competition to identify the best of the best. This competition also “spills” some light on the array of styles made in South Africa.
Syrah and Shiraz are made from the same grape albeit there are certain stylistic differences that distinguish the two. The French made it famous as Syrah in the Rhone valley – more reserved in style with its delicious fruit core hemmed with a savoury note and familiar spicy edge that adds a delicate perfume. The Australians are famous for their Shiraz – more robust and fruit-forward in style that exudes a typical ripeness that its followers love. It doesn’t mean that either of these styles are exclusive to one country and South Africa has proven that both can be mastered in our diverse southern “terroir-tories”.
It is the charm of both styles that makes this a challenging category to judge, but all the more reason for the judges to be thoroughly prepared to navigate themselves through the wines and to put themselves in the winemaker's shoes with every wine that passes their nose. What makes it quintessentially cool climate? What are those luscious attributes you get from a warmer region? And where lay those subtleties (captured through excellent winemaking) that highlight the best of both worlds?
This is why Shiraz SA introduced its new slogan: I say Syrah, you say Shiraz. The organisation was created as a platform for producers to share knowledge and at the same time create stronger consumer awareness. This includes an annual technical workshop for industry members to discuss trends and the latest technology.
The judging for the SA Shiraz Challenge commences on 9 April where single cultivars, as well as blends from different regions, will be judged. The outcome will be 12 distinctive examples that capture the essence of this grape in South Africa. I feel privileged to be selected as a judge again this year. The rest of the 2019 panel consist of Dr Andy Roediger (Cape Wine Master) as chairman, Charles Hopkins (cellar master De Grendel), Edmund Terblanche (cellar master La Motte, Chairman Shiraz SA), Claus Fischer (International Judge Germany, Mundus Vini), Jeanne-Mari de Villiers (consultant, owner VinJeanne), Elsie Pells (Cape Wine Master) and Morgan Steyn, a Cape Wine Guild Protégé and 8th judge.
Producers who are ‘game’ to take full advantage of the approaching winter will take part in the annual Seven Days of Shiraz and Venison – celebrated between 10 and 16 June. With more than 700 shiraz of Syrah wines to choose from, this event is supported by more than 30 producers, each curating their own program to pair their style of wine with a quintessential South African dish. Every producer will have the freedom to celebrate this the way they see fit. Menus will see various expressions of venison whether it be Springbok shanks, a kudu rump or slow braised meat used in arancini or a hearty ragout.
Visit www.shirazsa.co.za for more details. Keep an eye out for what Benguela Cove will have on offer to celebrate our new 2017 Estate Syrah release, as well as a new Syrah to soon join our Lighthouse Collection.
Samarie Smith - Brand Business Manager
Benguela Cove Wines | Benguela Collection