Before moving on to wine, let’s note that the new website seems to be working well. I hope that Neil Pendock will continue with his witty (and no doubt affectionate) description of us as the Bento box, even if our home-page compartments have rotated from the vertical to the horizontal – something that all of us do occasionally after a little too much wine.
We had a tasting of some recent releases today. A great pleasure for me was the Circumstance Shiraz 2007, from Waterkloof. This splendid new property, much of it on the slopes of the Schapenberg, near Somerset West, is surely destined to be one of the brighter stars in the local firmament – I wrote about it in an earlier blog, where I mentioned this Shiraz as a forthcoming wine from their middle-range label (there are no reds yet under the Waterkloof label). In the few months since then, the wine has gained a bit in confidence, I think. Very European-restrained in style – it reminded me rather of the syrahs made by Alain Graillot in Crozes Hermitage and St Joseph in the northern part of the Rhône valley, classical home of great shiraz.
This Circumstance has, like the Graillots, a touch of herbaceousness along with a little floral perfume – a real coolish-climate style wine, though the alcohol at 14% is higher than Graillot’s while remaining in excellent balance. It’s bone-dry, with a firm but ripely gentle tannin structure and a forward, fresh acidity. Worth a happy 16/20, I think. For a great shiraz from the property we must wait (and hope) for vines to mature and for a release in the top range. Meanwhile, though it’s not cheap at R130, we can enjoy this version. It’s very drinkable now, and will surely develop well for a few years yet.
Waterkloof is committed to organic and sustainable farming, and recently sent out some photos of the latest helper in their moves towards biodynamic viticulture (OK, no place is perfect – let them indulge themselves in a bit of mystical nonsense!). Here she is alongside, with Waterkloof farm manager Christiaan Loots: Lady G, a Percheron mare from KwaZulu-Natal. As well as no doubt occasionally contributing her bit directly to the fertility of the soil, she’ll be working hard and replacing some tractor-power and some of the compacting effect of tractor wheels. Though apparently she’ll also be literally clearing the way for others, according to Christiaan, as some of the terrain on the hilly farm “makes it almost impossible for our tractors to get to the vineyards. Thankfully Lady G can now assist us in removing boulders and undergrowth that are obscuring the way.”