Two very different Shiraz icons
I know, I know, Penfolds Grange keeps cropping up lately. But if a friend celebrates her 50th by opening a magnum of Penfolds Grange 1994 what can you do? Especially when your role is to compere a list of wines to accompany a safari experience. And so it was to the Cape that I sought inspiration and, keeping Grange company (or more accurately act as foil), The Sadie Family Columella 2004 did me proud.
As for the first of my two Shiraz icons, according to the recently released “The Rewards of Patience,” Penfolds Grange 1994 is considered by Penfolds winemakers as a “sleeper Grange vintage.” So you might have thought that Caroline’s magnum was even more “ridiculously unevolved” than the description in the book (magnums evolve at a slower pace). Fortunately for us, not so. Which is not to say that it lacked stature – far from it. Moreover its sweet core of concentrated fruit retained lovely depth and definition. But it was expansively mellow too, with long lingering spicy panforte notes. The whole well knit by powerful ripe tannins which were content to let the fruit speak volumes. A rare treat – thank you Caroline! You can read about the creation of Grange here and my review of the latest 2009 vintage here.
As for The Sadie Family Columella 2004, the Cape’s contribution to world Shiraz icons, I am pretty sure I acquired this a few years ago in an astute 25% off at Waitrose guerrilla raid. And how chuffed was I to discover that this wine was one of my mature picks of the bunch at a vertical tasting to celebrate a decade of Columella a few years ago? Three years later it continued to dazzle with its sylphlike, bright, fluid, very pure red-fruited palate and silky tannins. Even better, the wine safari of my cellar revealed I still have another bottle plus a bottle of the maiden 2000. I think those are to drink with Caroline!
As for the other Cape wines, my pick of the rest of a very good bunch was Julien Schaal Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 from Elgin. It has to be one of the most refined New World Chardys on the market for fifteen quid (Bottle Apostle). Bright, mineral and zesty with lovely balance and line. The eponymous Alsation winemaker has a delicate touch.