Serious South African Syrah

If Chenin Blanc is the white grape of the Cape (which it undoubtedly it), I would say Syrah is the red grape. I have had two vintages of Porseleinberg a couple of times, and it is one of the most arresting and god-damned pleasurable Syrahs I have ever drunk.

I should make it clear that this is a wine made for ageing. This is particularly true of the 2015, but the 2016 currently needs a lot of time in a decanter (probably with a good shake in there as well). Without that they seem a bit dumb, though still impressive (in the best possible way) – with it they blossom into entirely different beasts, with much more charm to go with their serious structure.

I hope my note will make this clear, but I will state it explicitly: Porseleinberg is an extremely fine Syrah and I have loved it every time I have tried it.

Illustrative bottleSyrah ‘Porseleinberg’ 2016, Callie Louw

Half an hour before drinking this I poured a glass to check it was ok, fortunately it was, stuck my palm over the top and gave the bottle a good, hard shake. If using a blender is hyper-decanting, then this is mega-decanting and very effective it is too.

Before the mega-decant this was closed and brooding, with not much fruit on show and quite tough tannins. So, I will taste it when it has had time to breathe.

Liberation! Fruit has blossomed on the nose! Not necessarily fresh fruit, there are plenty of dried cherry/cranberry aromas in with the blackberries, blackcurrants and plums, but it is very fruity indeed.

We are told the 2016 vintage of this wine was a very hot, dry one, which might account for the dried fruit. It also might account for the 14% alcohol which, whilst being in balance with the other components of the wine, makes it seem a little hotter than the 2015 I have tried.

There is no shortage of rich, earthy aromas here either; it has the earthiness of the best Northern Rhone Syrahs. The fruit, the warmth, the earth and a peppery spiciness all act together to give this nose real dimension. It is deliciously attractive and intellectually engaging.

There is more than a hint of butchness to the palate, with a lot of tannin and pretty high acidity. It does not seem like a huge monster, which perhaps it did before the mega-decanting – I think this has the promise to age very well.

There is a lot of fruit as well, blackberries as well as more of those slightly savoury dried cherries. Those cherry flavours fit in very well with the acidity on the palate and the very slight hint of bitterness to the tannins.

There are layers and layers of deep, profound, structured deliciousness to this palate, it pulses with total loveliness as well as a shade of seriousness, especially when one thinks of the structure. It remains, however, a fantastic wine of real class, winning style and serious dimensionality.

The wine is not the only thing in this package with dimensionality. In the main picture I have showed the bottle with its ‘back’ label. Below I have attached a picture of the ‘front’ label that I hope my photographic jiggery-pokery has enabled to show has more than two dimensions too.


Wine front label