What I Drank Last Night
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Mount Sutherland Syrah 2011

From the sticks.

From the sticks.

I chaired the panel that judged Shiraz at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show this year and when I later discovered that the Mount Sutherland Syrah 2012 was not only best in class but best red wine overall at the competition, I’ll confess to more than a little self-doubt. From extreme vineyards with little track-record, this was not an expected result. What, as judges, had we wrought?

It turns out that Mount Sutherland came about as a result of Daniël de Waal’s desire to replicate the cool continental vineyards of Europe – plantings are on a sheep farm near the Karoo town of Sutherland, 1 500m above sea level and 350km from the Indian Ocean.

The 2012 looked smashing when it was shown at the Trophy Wine Show public tasting in Cape Town but it’s the 2011 which is currently available to the general public and I recently picked up a bottle  for R190 at Wine @ The Mill in Woodstock.

Red and black fruit, pepper plus some subtle smoky, meaty notes. Well defined fruit, lemon-like acidity with fine but still nicely grippy tannins. Classically styled (abv 14% and matured for 15 months in French oak, 20% new). Exciting and unusual – not as rich and ripe as Stellenbosch Shiraz nor as stalky as new-wave Swartland.

Score: 91/100.

Comments

  1. Derek Prout-Jones says:

    Sutherland has a very interesting geographic positioning….roughly equidistant from both Indian and Atlantic Oceans (ca230kms?)… I wonder if either has an influence on the vineyards at that distance? If you see what miracles Tim Kirk has performed with his iconic Clonakilla in Murrumbateman in NSW (which is also a long way inland ca 130-150kms I think), the mind boggles. Will seek out a bottle to taste. Thx CE.

    • Last year at the Swartland Revolution, Eben Sadie mentioned that a study showed that maritime influence only reaches about 30km inland in terms of cooling. I reckon in this case it is – much like Spanish and Argentinean vineyards – altitude that plays the biggest role.

  2. Kwispedoor says:

    I’ve never drank a bottle, but from the little tastes I’ve had of some previous vintages, I like the 2012 the most, especially considering its balance. Considering the fairly random results that big tastings yield, this was a goodie.

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