You would be mistaken in thinking that the revolutionary change in South African wine is only happening in the Swartland. The quest to produce honest, elegant wines, more reflective of the terroir, at lower alcohols and with less intervention is slowly happening elsewhere. Duncan Savage comes to mind as a winemaker who is leading the trend towards wines with more soul. So too is the team at Reyneke, who are focusing on viticulture in breaking the boundaries of textbook Stellenbosch winemaking.
But the most exciting red we have tasted from Stellenbosch this year is a 13.5% alcohol, cracking Syrah from Radford Dale. This is true to Syrah (rather than Shiraz perhaps), displaying meaty, perfumed and peppery notes with a fresh acidity and low alcohol. ‘Elegant and classy, with underlying sense of power. An honest reflection of Stellenbosch’s terroir, and one of the best,’ says Master of Wine Cathy van Zyl. Importantly, this wine finishes with dry, impeccably fine tannins and remarkable length, all of which are difficult to achieve in our sunny climate. I can’t help but think of the wines of Jamet, Clape and the Northern Rhône with every sip, even though this is not a lookalike.
The Radford Dale team includes, unsurprisingly, Edouard Labeye, a winemaker from the Rhône; Alex Dale, who spent 20 years in Burgundy; and Jacques de Klerk, a young winemaker who isn’t scared to eschew conformity and pick early. Known for a varied but exceptional range, including great Chenins and Pinots, this is truly the standout wine that should be in every Syrah-lover’s cellar.
Wine Cellar’s new imports include Lustau Sherries and Flor de Pingus – described by The Wine Advocate as ‘pound for pound one of the great values in winedom!’
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