Positively polished

This review of GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah 2017 continues my series of #saveSAwine articles. The South African wine industry currently faces many problems; by buying quality South African wines we can drive exports and therefore help #saveSAwine.

GlenWood (yes, that is how they spell it) set up in Franschhoek in 1984. It has been developed into a wine ‘destination’ with an on site restaurant as well as tasting room and the provision of vineyard tours, etc. GlenWood now sell wines covering an array of price points. Grand Duc Syrah is their premium red wine.

I have to admit to tasting very few wines from Franschhoek so when Sebastian, the owner of RAKQ, the UK agent for GlenWood, asked if I would like to taste one or two of his wines I was very keen. Alas, there is always a bit of awkwardness when it comes to accepting wines for tasting.

When people offer me wine to taste I have to tell them that I am not for sale. I say that, no matter how expensive the wine they send me is, I cannot promise refulgently positive reviews.

As I am a person of extremely limited income myself, I would be severely vexed if a review told me a wine was good, I went out and bought it, and it turned out to be piss. The bastard reviewer would have wasted my fun tokens!

I absolutely will not lead my readers (or my faded memories in N years) astray. This has cost me tastings of very flash producers and freebie bottles aplenty, because I will not promise to give positive reviews. I want Elitistreview to be honest and accurate, not a string of lies and chicanery about expensive-but-emetic wines.

So I had to explain this to Sebastian – happily I received a great response from him!

He told me that he and his team at RAKQ taste wines together and decide to distribute each one only if it is of sufficient quality that they can feel proud to represent them. He felt sure I would be impressed with RAKQ’s portfolio when I tasted a sample or two. Good chap, Sebastian! Let us taste the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah!

GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah 2017Grand Duc Syrah 2017, GlenWood

Grand Duc has an rather attractive nose. It is very polished and voluptuous with plum, cherry and blackberry fruit. It smells a lot more civilised than the Savage Red 2018 The Editor and I drank recently – not as wild.

This fruit is round and polished on the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah’s palate and definitely very comely. It is the plum and cherry fruit that stick out most. I wonder if the plum is regional character for Franschhoek? Cherry seems a characteristic common to most South African Syrahs. I will taste more from this area and let you all know, I like giving blind tasting tips.

Something that does not show on the nose is pepper, this is unusual for South African Syrah. However, having tasted the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah it is there in abundance on the palate and gives a delightfully stimulating character to the whole favour profile. Rather tasty!

Furthermore, there is a very pleasing generally ‘spicy’ character to both the nose and palate of the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah that seems reminiscent of that character in fine Northern Rhône wines. It is hard to put one’s finger on exactly what those spices are (as it is in the Rhône), but they add to the perception of The GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah being a polished, round, warm wine of civilised, comforting character.

The Grand Duc Syrah’s structure could not be more different to that of the Savage Red. Rather rather a wild jumble of gum-flagellating tannins, the Grand Duc Syrah is as smooth as silk with supple, lissome (and probably filtered – but this is a Good Thing) tannins that seem in good harmony with the lively acid levels.

For a wine that claims to have been matured in new, premium French oak barrels I could not be happier to report that in the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah, the use of wood is so sophisticated it has been totally integrated with the wine corpus. There are no spiky oak tannins or heavy vanilla characteristics. Wonderful, just wonderful!

What is also good about the oak use on the GlenWood Grand Duc Syrah is that it has allowed, through micro-oxidation in the barrels, to cement this wine’s tannic structure as a model of sleek, velvety correctness. This is really admirable use of oak and it has been executed with great control.

The vivacious, fresh components of the Grand Duc Syrah’s structure are well-balanced with the lissome, sylphlike tannins. The Grand Duc Syrah’s harmony of the structure, fruit, spice and the skilful use of oak demonstrate that one is drinking a wine of urbane qualities that would easily fit in with the genteel set of international fine wines.

This is a really satisfying wine, that charms and flatters the palate, it is not going to take you on a wild mining-cart scream through all the tunnels of Syrah’s possibilities like Savage Red. Both are valid expressions of Syrah, but sometimes it is nice to sit back, take it easy and be royally flattered!

#saveSAwine at RAKQ.

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