This review of Porseleinberg Syrah 2017 is more than a #saveSAwine post but do remember there are over 27,000 jobs in the wine trade at risk thanks to prohibition in South Africa and by buying South African wine we can fuel wine exports and therefore #saveSAwine.
Much as with Ian Naudé’s Semillon 2016 in my previous review, this is a wine I have tried to review multiple times. In addition to the towering quality of this wine making me have too much fun, I blame steak for my failure to get a review online until now.
The first time I tried Porseleinberg Syrah 2017 was eight months ago on our first restaurant visit after months of frightening lockdown. We were at Hawksmoor Spitalfields.
Long-time readers will know there was a period when approximately 10% of posts on Elitistreview were about eating or drinking at Hawksmoor. The sheer joy of being back at our home away from home, the quality of the food and, most certainly, the quality of the wine made me just want to sit back and have a good time.
Then I purchased another bottle to try and review a few months ago under Lockdown 2.0. This time it was the heady brilliance of the wine and Turner and George steaks that made me so mirthful I committed fedifraction regarding reviewing that bottle of Porseleinberg Syrah.
I am now eating Hawksmoor steaks from the excellent online supermarket Ocado, who have recently started delivering these heavenly pieces of meat. However, this time I am bloody going to review the wine!
Before getting onto the review of Porseleinberg Syrah I must acquiet my desire for a diversion into the wonder of Hawksmoor steaks. Hawksmoor restaurants serve bleeding brilliant meat. It is fabulous and possibly, I do not like ranking things, peerless.
Whether the Hawksmoor steaks at Ocado are simply a product of the restaurants being unable to serve the steaks because they are closed during lockdown (so they go to Ocado), or if it is a long-term business move, I know not. The point is Ocado sell Hawksmoor steaks and we have two of them.
Two 400g ribeyes. Are they not gorgeous? Wonderful marbling, good meat to fat ratio, generally delicious looking meat.
After years of fiddling about with different timing methods and so on, The Editor has learned how to cook ribeyes of correct thickness, by which I mean, thick ribeyes, until they are at the correct cookedness for these steaks: medium/rare. All it has taken him is the application of the temperature probe he gave me for Christmas – although I am sure any temperature probe will do (if it is accurate).
If you cook your ribeyes for an approximately equal period on both sides, on a sizzling hot grill pan, until your temperature probe registers 52°C in the centre of the steak. Easy, and it works a treat, here are the results:
Attractive meat (and an attractive pussy) but, since you cannot see the attractive bottle of attractive wine, let us – pausing only to say the Hawksmoor steaks are must buys if you shop at Ocado – get on to the review of Porseleinberg Syrah 2017!
Porseleinberg Syrah 2017, Callie Louw
This has closed up somewhat since I last tasted it. It has a touch of the beetroot character that Northern Rhône wines display after their first, fresh flush of youth.
However, what remains of that first flush is extremely pleasurable. Porseleinberg Syrah has plenty of black cherry fruit that bursts with rich, dark juice. It is decadently fruity, quite hedonistic in its overt delivery of real fulfillment.
This black cherry fruit grew with air, both on the nose and palate, and after a couple of hours my last glass was a veritable post-prom night in terms of burst and juice-dripping cherries. Absolutely delicious, and intertwined with comely floral aromas that gave the fruit plenty of dimension.
Dimension was also present in the form of herbal and spicy components on the Porseleinberg Syrah. The principle spice here is pepper – rich and warm, tingling with stimulation on the nose and palate, adding a real thrill of excitement.
I suppose people who have been to South Africa would describe the herbal characteristics here as fynbos, I have not so I cannot. The herbs I can identify on this Porseleinberg Syrah are thyme, rosemary and a hint of lavender. Very complex, most delightful.
There are earthy characteristics in the form of freshly dug Highland peat and I get distinct tones of granitic dust that whirl up your nose and dance down your throat as you swallow. The finish is of extraordinary length, with a brilliant salmagundi of all the flavours I give above held in a tight grip by the taut structure of this wine.
Just after opening the structure did seem a little tough, the tannins a touch gum-tanning, but as the Porseleinberg Syrah opened up they showed a move svelte, ripe side whilst remaining perfectly vibrant enough to ensure this wine will neither dry out into acrid tannin insipidity nor turn soupy and sickly.
The perfectly balanced acid level, which keeps the Porseleinberg vivacious, will help the Porseleinberg last and last. As a whole, the structure is a great support to the fruity, herbal, spicy and earthy flavours. It keeps everything conjunct in a pleasing collocate of winning personality.
Porseleinberg Syrah 2017 has just started its journey on what will be a long, but pleasure-slathered life, by arse it is good. It has everything you need where you need it to make this a sodding brilliant wine to own and impress your Syrah-loving friends for at least fifteen years. This is brilliant, just brilliant.
Trying this Porseleinberg recently, both (in the past) when open for action and last night when a touch closed, and the Rall Ava Syrah 2019 has given me two nigh-peerless young Syrah experiences. This is not least because both are squeaky clean with not the slightest hint of Brett to them. This is beyond magnificent.
Anyone who says the New World cannot produce world-walloping wines is unqualified to comment unless they have tried one of these. They are fantastic, amazing, stunning, nec plus ultra, the cat’s arse, and I feel bloody lucky to have tried them both.
Greg at Handford has some bottles left, or try Ben at VinoSA.
I was lucky enough to obtain one bottle of each of the Porseleinberg 2016 and Rall Ava Syrah 2017. Not tried either, so wondered what you thought about broaching one now?
Mark old chap,
If I were you I would wait 2-3 years before popping either as, whilst they could possibly be good now, if they are closed down you’ll really regret it. They promise much pleasure in the future. Syrah is not really that enjoyable when it is closed down – I was fortunate to catch this just on the cusp of being a bit too miserable
You are very lucky to have the first commercialised vintage of Rall Ava and Porseleinberg 16 is a wonderful, wonderful wine (my review here: https://elitistreview.com/2019/08/17/serious-south-african-syrah/ is totally inadequate at expressing its shimmering class) . In 2-3 years they should be so good they’ll blow your nipples off in delight!
Excellent review and agree the Porseleinberg is near peerless, well I thought that of the 2016 who is is exceptional. Then the 17 comes along and takes it to the next level.
Out of interest we at http://www.Winoship.com stock the Porseleinberg too but it’s an online stock item and generally reserved for private client and collectors👍
Thanks for the advice. You are right, when you only 1 bottle you really need to listen to others who have tried it, so you don’t miss out. BTW I bought this on the back of your review back in 2019, so thank you again.
Oh so my review did communicate it was worth buying then!😂😂😂 Good. You made a damned good choice there, in 2-3 (or 10) years that wine will provide a whopping great load of pleasure. Smart buying!
So was picking up the Ava. There exists the possibility that the first commercialised vintage of this hyper-hip wine will, one day, be worth a pretty penny. Alas, that kind of thing is hard to predict, especially if you only have one bottle that is not being professionally stored.
If funds allow, you should try one of the sources given above for a 17 Porseleinberg. Maybe, in several years time, you could have a little vertical of it. But don’t, drink them when they are ready at special moments in your life. Good things can only be improved by adding more good things!
Any thoughts on value here Davy? Both this and Ava at £50ish, perhaps a little more. Many other SA Syrahs passing your palate recently have been £30ish? And less than £20 for The Foundry.
A good question, Ben old bean!
It is undoubtedly true that these are a bit more expensive than the usual wines I buy and report on and, as I am sure you are aware, the relationship between price and quality is not linear
However, I tell no splute when I say these are nigh at the zenith of quality of Syrah that one can buy, at least in the frame of young Syrah. Does this mean they are nearly two-thirds again the quality of, say, Savage Red 2018 (which is £30 to these £50 – in 2018 it is a single vineyard of Stellenbosch Syrah)?
No, but there are two isses with this idea. Firstly, what in the blazing fuck would two-thirds again the quality mean? I think one can say, with certain limitations, that one wine is better than another, But how on earth could you quantify it and say it’s two-thirds again as good?
Secondly, as I said, there is not a linear relationship between price and quality. Pay double the amount and you get something that is nebulously better, maybe only slightly nebulously better, but that nebulous amount may be enough to take it to, “Shitting fuck! this is the best ever!”-levels of quality
Savage Red 18 is a really fine wine, as I will be reporting soon. Really, really fine! However, the some-indefinible-degree better that Porseleinberg and Ava are, make them amongst the best handful of young Syrahs in the world. Seriously, they are that good!
So I would suggest that some wines offer a large dose of quality for the amount you pay. Things like Savage Red 18 offer one hell of a lot of bang for buck. Indeed, it approaches that vaguly defined zone that is ‘the best in this particular category’ and, if you are looking to spend less money than Porseleinberg and Ava, you will not be disappointed with a purchase of that wine.
If only the best will do, spend twenty coins more and move into the zone of ‘best ever’. It may only be small movements of the points in the polydimensional taxonomy system of quality, but those small movements are significant in terms of the clade of quality the wine inhabits relative to all others of the type of wine. I would say these two wines represent good value!
If you want a short answer, I suppose that question, “What have you, as a person of limited income, splashed out on, Davy?”, would be a good one to ask. I have been scrimping and saving and I have three bottles of Porseleinberg 17, three bottles of Rall Ava 19 and three of Savage Red 18. Every one of those nine pops will pleasure me immensely!