One of the most enjoyable aspects of my involvement at Cloof is that I experience the finished wines at every stage from fruit in the vineyard onwards. This enjoyment is substantially amplified by the quality of the Shiraz emanating from these vineyards. I just love sticking my nose into a glass and finding the aromas that I associate with Shiraz.
Every year we make several tanks of Shiraz, each from different vineyards on Cloof and Burghers Post. Unfortunately the volumes have been limited, so we’ve generally blended the Shiraz with either Cabernet, or Cabernet and Pinotage. The only single-varietal bottling of Shiraz has been Crucible, which for all its quality has been very restricted in quantity (in four vintages we’ve only made 1100 cases).
This week we finally unveil a Shiraz that has quietly been making its way through the system since its vinification in 2004. The grapes came from Burghers Post, and had produced gorgeously hedonistic Shiraz flavours. It was a prime candidate for barrel maturation, which is where it spent a little more than 12 months.
The combination of concentrated juicy fruit and French oak resulted in an irresistible package. In fact, the attractiveness of the wine was such that it could only be called ‘sexy’, hence The Very Sexy Shiraz (with apologies to Eric Carle, the author/illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Busy Spider etc). “Darling of origin, darling by nature” is how we describe it on the back label.
So, finally, we have a Shiraz to partner the Crucible.
Premium, barrel-aged shiraz often goes on the market priced in excess of R100, but given the name, the only price that made sense was soixante-neuf (or, R69).
Last week Wine magazine announced the results of its 2006 Shiraz Challenge, which has led to a great deal of excitement at Cloof.
The judges tasted 215 wines, from which they selected 28 wines to go into round two of the tasting process. The eventual winner was awarded four-and-a-half stars, with seven wines on four stars, one of which was The Very Sexy Shiraz.
So, one could safely say that our own (presumptuous) judgement of the wine was vindicated.