A cold continental climate Syrah adds more intrigue at De Grendel’s Shiraz offering.
The Graaff Family of De Grendel Estate has vineyards planted in the Witzenberg mountains of the Ceres Plateau, on the farm Rietfontein owned by Robert Graaff, brother of De Grendel’s owner, Sir De Villiers Graaff.
Elegant and complex, full-bodied, fragrant and fresh – the maiden vintage of De Grendel Op die Berg Syrah is a distinctive wine grown in one of South Africa’s highest, and coldest, winemaking districts. At 1000m above sea level, the vineyards are often blanketed with snow in winter, as they are now. 140km inland from the west coast, Ceres is one of South Africa’s few truly continental winegrowing climates – far from the reach of moderating ocean influences.
“Syrah has an air of intrigue, a mystique about it, and part of that is due to its stylistic diversity and adaptability to different climates where it produces very different flavour profiles. For me, it shows the greatest sense of place of any wine, showing in its style so clearly where it comes from, and that really fascinates me,” says Hopkins.
Below-freezing temperatures and snow in winter provide the perfect resting and recovery conditions for the vines in their dormant period before Spring and the growing season, when the sharp contrast of warm days and cooler nights results in slower ripening and more concentrated fruit.
The grapes from the Op die Berg vineyards are delivered to the De Grendel cellar in Durbanville where they are destemmed before crushing to reduce tannic influence and undergo aerated pump overs in closed tanks to preserve freshness, while extended skin contact develops full body and the wine’s deep, brilliant colour. Malolactic fermentation takes place in steel tanks before the wine is transferred to 2nd, 3rd and 4th fill French oak barrels for 12 months’ maturation prior to final blending and bottling.
From a Burgundy shaped bottle closed with natural cork. The label in black is simple and elegant. Name Syrah indicating its lighter, more Old World style. In the glass, the wine is a deep blue plum at the heart which pales out to a purple tinged ruby at the edges. The aromas are of dark berries and cherries and plums. There is a grind of white pepper in undertow. The palate is vibrant on entry with the dark berry and plum fruits in a more restrained style. There are notes of herbs and spices. Smooth silken tannins with the oak support the fruit beautifully and allow it to shine. A truly impressive glass. While eminently drinkable now, 8 years or so of cool cellaring will certainly reward you.
The De Grendel Op die Berg Syrah 2019 is a wine made for well prepared food. Ian Bergh, the chef at De Grendel Restaurant, has Springbok loin, celeriac, olive, black truffle, parsnip, roasted garlic, red cabbage, blackberries, preserved figs, and jus on the menu, a perfect match.
Click HERE for my podcast about this wine, first aired on Fine Music Radio
Read more about De Grendel Wine Estate – CLICK HERE