As wine producers search for individuality and thereby something to give them the edge on the competition, new wine growing areas are being pioneered around the world like never before. On Friday at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch, a comparative tasting featuring Aussie vs. South African Shiraz, wines chosen in order to explore the potential of what might be considered less established regions.
Sourcing the Australian wines was thanks to Grant Dodd, CEO of Haskell Vineyards but based in Australia, while the local wines involved were selected by me (two wines from Stellenbosch which can hardly be considered “New Wave” but Reyneke 2011 included on the basis of being South Africa’s leading biodynamic producer and Haskell Aeon 2010 in deference to our host).
The panel included Dodd, me and fellow wine critics Michael Fridjhon, Tim James and Angel Lloyd. We tasted blind with scoring done according to the 20-point system and here’s how the wines ranked (average arithmetic scores in brackets):
1. Mullineux 2010, Swartland (17.8)
2. Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010, Canberra (17.2)
3. = De Iuliis Steven Vineyard 2011, Hunter Valley (17.1)
3. = Strandveld 2010, Elim (17.1)
5. Glaetzer Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz 2010, Tasmania (16.9)
6. Dalwhinnie Moonambel 2009, Pyrenees (16.5)
7. De Bortoli Reserve 2010, Yarra Valley (16.4)
8. Sami Odi Hoffmann Dallwitz 2010, Barossa (16.3)
9. Eagles’ Nest 2009, Constantia (16.1)
10. = Fable Bobbejaan 2010, Tulbagh (16)
10. = Tyrrells Old Patch 1867 2009, Hunter Valley (16)
12. = Marius Symphony 2010, McLaren Vale (15.9)
12. = Raka Biography 2010, Klein Rivier (15.9)
14. = Bests Bin O 2010, Great Western (15.7)
14. = Groote Post 2011, Darling (15.7)
14. = Haskell Aeon 2010, Stellenbosch (15.7)
17. Forest Hill Block 5 2010, Mount Barker (15.4)
18. = Belfield 2009, Elgin (15.1)
18. = Scali 2008, Voor Paardeberg (15.1)
20. = Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire 2011, Margaret River (15)
20. = Reyneke 2011, Stellenbosch (15)
22. Lomond Conebush 2009, Cape Agulhas (14.3)
For the record, my top three wines on the day were Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010, Raka Biography 2010 (both 17.5/20) and Eagles’ Nest 2010 (17/20).
Presuming your loyalties lie with South Africa rather than Australia, nice to see Mullineux emerge top of the pile on this occasion. Rankings matter up to a point but just about all the wines had some redeeming merit and on a different day, no doubt a different outcome. What was so pleasing about this particular tasting was the really wide range of different expressions of Shiraz on display, all more or less legitimate – if you truly love wine then you don’t want any one style to predominate.