2009 Waterkloof "Circumstance" Syrah Stellenbosch South Africa

SKU #1117685 17 points Jancis Robinson

 Fragrant, pepper, black fruit, meat. Excellent varietal definition. Combines the spice and black pepper really nicely. (RH)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Saturated ruby-red. Extravagantly scented nose offers black raspberry, cardamom, cocoa powder and black olive. Rich, spicy, dry and serious, with the dark berry and black olive notes dominating the palate. Finishes with dusty tannins and good length.

Wine Spectator

 Shows a strong minty edge, with loam, cocoa powder and mulled blackberry and black currant fruit. The velvety finish shows a slightly mature feel, but this retains plenty of stuffing. (Web-2013)

K&L Notes

This is a new Direct Import for K&L, so not only is it a fabulous wine, but it's an exceptional value, too. Our very own Ryan Woodhouse describes it like this: "A very low-yielding (1.25 tons per acre) vineyard block produces this fascinating Syrah. Made with all wild yeast and a good amount of whole cluster fermentation. The wine is fermented in open-top wooden fermenters and hand punched down two to three times daily. After a gentle basket pressing it is aged for 20 months in 600L new French oak barrels called Puncheons. This wine simply exudes the classic Syrah qualities of dark red fruits, herbs and cured meats. Some spice on the nose runs through the substantial, rich and generous palate, all carried by driving acidity." (Learn more about the Waterkloof range on K&L Uncorked at Blog.KLWines.com.)

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Price: $24.99

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By: Gary Westby |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 2/27/2013  | Send Email
This almost black Syrah impressed me at our recent South African tasting along with the rest of the Waterkloof Circumstance range. The nose is full of mint and pepper and the palate has classic Syrah blueberry fruit, but without the sugar and high alcohol that is all too common in new world wines. If you love big, smoky Syrah, but don't like the sugary heaviness of a lot of the big scoring bottles, this is very worth trying!

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

South Africa

- Now that it has adopted a multi-racial attitude, and now that the world has embraced its government and its exports, South Africa has become a major wine producer. Unfortunately, South Africa has had a difficult time joining the ranks of competitive winemaking countries. During the anti-apartheid sanctions in the 1980s, South African wine was dealt the huge blow when it was removed from the international market, and for political reasons it was quite difficult for wine producers to market wine to the black majority. Things are finally looking up for the wine industry here, and quality has never been higher. South Africa produces a grape cloned from Pinot Noir and Cinsault, called Pinotage, which is the country's unique varietal. Chenin Blanc (known as Steen) makes up one-third of its vines. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are becoming increasingly popular as are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Click for a list of bestselling items from South Africa.
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