Shiraz is one of the most popular wines in South Africa, known for hints of jammy fruits, a meaty body and peppery character. We’re fortunate to live in a country that produces excellent examples of both Shiraz and Syrah – same wine, different style – and this week the best of the best were honoured at the 6th Shiraz Challenge.
The winning Shiraz wines for 2018 were announced on Wednesday 30 May at Rhebokskloof following a tasting of the 25 Shiraz and 10 blend finalists. This year, three Shiraz blends and twelve Shiraz stole the limelight.
So next time you hit the shops, keep this list with you:
Best Shiraz Blends
Babylonstoren Babel 2016
Saronsberg Full Circle 2016
Spier Creative Block 3 2015
Top Shiraz for 2018
Alvi’s Drift Signature Shiraz 2016
Babylonstoren Shiraz 2016
Bloemendal Syrah 2013
Boschkloof Louis 57 Shiraz 2016
D’Aria The Soprano Shiraz 2016,
De Grendel Elim Shiraz 2016 (the only 1,5ℓ magnum entered)
Diemersfontein Shiraz 2017
Eagles’ Nest Shiraz 2015
KWV Cathedral Cellar Shiraz 2015
Oldenburg Vineyards Syrah 2014
Saronsberg Provenance Shiraz 2016
Wellington La Cave Shiraz 2016
How were the wines judged?
A total of 192 wines (36 blends and 156 Shiraz) from all the country’s wine-making regions entered.
According to panel chairperson Dr Andy Roediger (Cape Wine Master and chairperson for the past five years) palate fatigue can be a wine judge’s biggest enemy, especially when tasting a large selection of wines in the same category. “In addition, when using a set order for a tasting, an absolute winner can completely overshadow a fine wine following it, giving it an unfair advantage,” he explains.
“For these reasons we implemented a new tasting format (developed in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch) with good results. Previously the panel tasted a few wines and discussed them. This year there was no discussion in between judging sets and every judge had a unique order of wines to be tasted, resulting in a more objective outcome.”
The panel’s assignment was to acknowledge all Shiraz styles and to judge in terms of intensity, variety characteristics and purity, and aging potential. The aim of the competition, to identify twelve wines that can hold their own with internationally acclaimed wines.
“I always look for balance, integration and elegance,” says Jeanne-Mari de Villiers of Checkers’ Odd Bins. “It is true that Shiraz is so diverse with lots of potential for flavour, tannins and colour inherent to the grape. But I feel wine makers should avoid too heavily oaked wines with high alcohol content that can dominate the tasting experience.”
Do you have a favourite South African Shiraz? Pop your recommendations in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you.