Tim Atkin MW - SA report 2022
“Graham Williams’ Swartland Shiraz comes from the Kasteelberg Mountain and is a rich, full-throttle expression of the grape that’s tethered by acidity and 10% whole bunches. Bramble, liquorice, and blackberry fruit flavours are complemented by cinnamon-scented 34% new French oak”
DRINK 2022 – 2026
R195 – R1,170
- Full Body
- Fruit Intensity
All about this wine
This single-vineyard Shiraz is made with hand-selected grapes from two specific blocks near Riebeek Kasteel. The hot sunny position is tempered by the cool evening breezes afforded by the elevated position and the decomposed granite soils deliver a super dark, rich, silky Shiraz.
The lightly crushed grapes were held at a cool temperature for several days, in order to extract colour and taste, before being allowed to warm up and ferment with daily punch-downs and pump-overs. 10% whole bunches were used to add richness, freshness and complexity and the wine was further left on the skins post-primary fermentation before being carefully pressed for maturation, after which malolactic fermentation continued.
The wine was matured on a carefully selected blend of toasted and untoasted French Oak for 12 months, using 40% new oak designed to retain the freshness of fruit but enhance the typical tastes of this cultivar.
This unfiltered wine is packed with fruit and is complimented with the aroma of violets, so typical of the Swartland Shiraz’, but with the trademark delicate peppery finish. It is subtly supported by undertones of coconut and mocha courtesy of the beautiful French Oak.
Soft and lush with great mid-palate and mouthfeel, this Shiraz is big and serious enough to stand up to most foods but soft enough to enjoy on its own.
Whilst it is already drinking very nicely, it will benefit from a few years laying down, and can be cellared for 7-10 years.
Once hand-harvested and sorted to remove all the leaves, the grapes were held in a cold room for 5 days to bring the core temperatures down to around 3’c. Thereafter, 10% of the grapes were included as whole bunches and the balance was lightly crushed and de-stemmed into the fermenter where they were further held at cold temperature and under a carbon dioxide blanket for another 3 days, to improve colour and flavour extraction before inoculating with yeast and kicking off the primary or alcoholic fermentation. This was also temperature controlled to ensure lower temperatures were achieved. Whole bunch fermentation improves the flavour and aromatic richness.
This was completed in around 9 days at which time we again sealed the fermenter and held the must on lees for an additional 4-5 days before using the old-fashioned basket press to extract the juices and into the maturation stage on 31% new French Oak, a specially selected mix of toasted and untoasted oak that allows us to support the fruit with just the right balance that delivers a balanced wine with body and finesse.
The wine was matured at a stable temperature whilst the secondary, or malolactic fermentation continued and we carefully assessed it after 11 months of letting Mother Nature do her thing, with the wine flavours and aromas mingling with the Oak until we decided to bottle the wine after 12 months on the wood. This was done meticulously and carefully but with no filtration other than a very basic physical filter to keep out any naughty pips. No finings or stabilisation techniques were used prior to bottling and along with the practically zero filtration, we believe this allows the fullest flavours to shine through, just as Mother nature intended.
COLOUR: Shining throughout but still nearly black. The wine is intensely coloured and although on closer inspection it shows its young age with a lighter edge, it is an incredible deep purple in colour, perhaps darker than a shiraz usually is, but we believe our cold-soaking methods achieve this.
SMELL: This wine is just fruit, fruit and fruit, oh and some spicy loveliness too, but the aromas are all bright and clean on the nose. It’s driven primarily by blueberries and ripe plums since at Thorngrove we like the fruit to shine out, but then the subtle unique aspect of the Swartland terroir comes into play – violets. Distinct and fresh as the real flowers and then the white pepper and chocolate-type aromas gently show themselves. You may also pick up the lightest hints of mocha & coconut from the mix of French Oak we use.
TASTE: This wine tastes just like a beautifully made Shiraz should, with more identifiable flavours on the palate than on the nose. Blueberry, chocolate and violets are there with balance, underpinned by a waft of peppery oak and soft acidity, but identifiable grip too.
The wine is a huge full-bodied one with medium-full silky fine tannins and acidity, which when combined with our fruit-forward style make this a soft and luscious wine but with enough grip to hold its own on your dining table as well as sit quietly in your cellar for the next 5 years – if you can wait that long.
This Shiraz has a bold flavour, decent tannins and balanced acidity which means it can handle well-spiced dishes such as Asian 5-spiced pork belly, or Pekin duck, Moroccan lamb and even per-peri chicken and tandoori dishes. It will also play nicely with powerful sauces such as pepper sauce. Not too many foods could outplay this opulent Thorngrove Shiraz.
Given the huge mouthfeel of this wine, I think a pairing with stunning, heavyweight cheeses, such as 18 month aged Cheddar, a Gorgonzola or a very ripe Camembert-styled soft rind cheese will have you bringing out the rest of your stash…