Stellenbosch wine farm, Kleine Zalze, is delighted to announce yet another international success as its 2009 Family Reserve Shiraz secures 2nd place in the coveted Top Ten at the Syrah du Monde. More than 400 syrahs and shirazes from around the world were rigorously scrutinised by an international panel of judges before a mere 31 gold medals were awarded. As a country, South Africa recorded one of the highest medal tallies with 5 golds and 13 silvers, but only Kleine Zalze achieved the ultimate accolade of a Top Ten position, coming in at number 2 in the overall line-up.
According to Johan Joubert, Cellarmaster of Kleine Zalze, 2009 was the best year ever at Kleine Zalze, and in his opinion, the best recorded South African vintage to date. This vintage continues a run of international success for the Family Reserve Shiraz stretching back to 2004 and most of the credit for this, is given to the soils. Johan says "This block has three unique soil types - Glenrosa, Oakwood and Furnwood, all of them based on decomposed granite - and it is this which allows us to achieve the layers of flavour in the wine combining dark, dark mulberry fruit from the mainly clay soils, the red cherry fruit from the mainly sandy soils and the spicy plum fruit from the 50/50 mixed soils. The vines were replanted 16 years ago and are now in their prime of life - I think we can expect even greater things to come from this block!" For Johan, the aim of the Family Reserve wines is always to reflect the specific site from whence the grapes originate, and enormous amounts of experimentation and analysis take place in terms of canopy management, barrel regime, grape selection and chemical analysis, always with the aim of continuous improvement.
The 2009 Family Reserve Shiraz uses grapes from a single vineyard block on the original Kleine Zalze farm. The long, slow, cooler, ripening period of the vintage suited the grapes to perfection and careful canopy management ensured full phenolic ripeness. Hand-harvested and then rigorously sorted, the grapes were then cold-soaked and fermented both in stainless steel tanks and open-top fermenters before the wine was matured in 100% new French oak for a period of 22 months. The intensity of fruit from the marvellous 2009 vintage married with the subtle, spicy oak and resulted in an exceptionally well-balanced wine which epitomises the three criteria necessary for a Family Reserve wine - consistency, varietal expression and longevity.
Although Johan is supremely confident that the 2009 has plenty of years of drinking pleasure ahead of it, ask him what food he will be drinking with it right now and his answer is swift and assured "You must try it with Beef Fillet served on an Oxtail and red wine reduction and a Juniper Berry Sauce. That's the dish we serve it with at Terroir Restaurant on the farm, and believe me, with the 2009 Family Reserve Shiraz, it is absolute magic!"