This April we celebrate Syrah by exploring its history, looking at viticultural and vinification practices, as well as pairing it with fantastic dishes which you can recreate at home by following recipes from a well-known chef.
The cheery snip of secateurs … the jolly banter of the pickers … Over the past week these have been the sounds filling the air with an atmosphere of bonhomie. Yes, at Creation Wines we’ve been harvesting our Syrah blocks which are planted in specially selected sites behind and adjacent to the Tasting Room. To view video footage of the harvest, click here.
Despite the wetness of the 2014 summer, conscientious vineyard management by cellarmaster, viticulturist and owner JC Martin has led to excellent quality fruit. This superiority is further ensured by using only hand-picked bunches harvested by an experienced local workforce who have lived on farms in the area for generations.
Syrah is one of South Africa’s most promising cultivars and one which is growing rapidly in popularity. Having represented 1% of plantings in the early 1990s it now represents almost a 10th of all plantings in South Africa. It is also interesting to note that it is presently the 7th most planted variety worldwide.
Although it was believed to have originated near Shiraz in Iran (a myth strengthened by the widespread use of the name ‘Shiraz’ for the Syrah grape in many New World regions), genetic mapping has identified the parents of Syrah as two obscure varieties from the south of France, namely Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche.
Grown across the globe, it can be made in a number of styles and there are distinct stylistic differences between warm and cool climate Syrah. However, it typically produces wines that are medium to full-bodied with dark, intense colour and tannins which, although present, are usually not harsh.
The spiritual home of Syrah is the Rhône Valley in France. In the southern Rhône Syrah lends colour to the Grenache-based blends of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, while further north in the Côte-Rôtie, it is co-fermented with Viognier to produce wines that are paradoxically meaty, spicy and floral.
The Creation Syrah 2012 impresses with aromas of maraschino cherry and peppery spice interwoven with whiffs of violet. It is lusciously ripe on the silky palate with vibrant minerality to offer exciting complexity. Lingering echoes of anise and clove add to the attraction of a wine that is drinking beautifully right now, but will also age elegantly.
The exceptional natural acidity and minerality allow the Creation Syrah to pair harmoniously with dishes that span the culinary spectrum – this will be the focus of next week’s newsletter. To read more about the viticulture and vinification of Syrah, click here.