I think I could almost be described as a ‘shiraz junkie’. Given the choice of a bunch of unknown wines on a restaurant list I’m more likely to pick a shiraz than cabernet or merlot. It’s not that I’m not happy drinking the Bordeaux varieties – it’s just that I’m more confident of finding a shiraz I’m going to enjoy drinking.
In that sense, I’m extremely fortunate to be responsible for marketing the kind of shiraz we have at Cloof. Between Crucible and They Very Sexy Shiraz we have two wines that cover a big chunk of the market.
I still have a vivid recollection of my first taste of the 2002 vintage from the Crucible vineyard. It was in November of that year, when I was being interviewed for the position at Cloof (well, I was also interrogating the wines to make sure I wanted to be selling them!). The acidity was bracing to say the least, but the aroma had all the ethereal savoury shiraz notes for which I’ve never been able to find an adequate description, and find so appealing. This wine ended up in a very successful blend with an over-ripe parcel of cabernet.
The 2003 vintage delivered the first Crucible (lots more on that in the Cloof Life section of the Cloof website www.cloof.co.za), but it wasn’t until 2004 that we had our first look at the excellence of the shiraz fruit from our neighbouring property, Burghers Post.
The wine had such an attractive combination of ripe fruit (with Southern French savouriness rather than New World sweetness) and spicy French oak, that I felt compelled to name it after the experience one has when drinking it, rather than making up a name for the vineyard that provided the fruit. Hence The Very Sexy Shiraz.
This week we released the 2006 Sexy Shiraz. What a wine – it absolutely gushes concentrated, rich fruit that coats the oak tannins extremely well (the wine had a year in barrels, of which 50% were new).
Not only is this wine lush, but its forwardness and ‘out-thereness’ qualifies it is ‘a lush’ in the old-fashioned sense (I once described the very upfront Slaley 1998 Shiraz, also made by Christopher van Dieren, as “a slut of a wine”).
We’ve elected to keep the selling price of The Very Sexy Shiraz at the lower end of what is commercially viable (a case could be made for selling it for at least 50% more), because we want it the wine in as many homes, restaurants and shops as possible, rather than in our warehouse. We want the world to share our excitement and enjoyment of this wine.
Cloof is shiraz heaven!