Monday, January 16, 2017

Boschendal 2011 Cecil John Reserve Shiraz, Stellenbosch

A visit to Boschendal, a wine estate with roots back to 1685, was a highlight of our trip to South Africa. Would its wine taste as spectacular in our own living room?

Exploring Wood And Dale

In 2015 we spent two weeks in South Africa touring wineries, exploring the spectacular country, and stuffing many, many bottles into our luggage. One of the cool wine destinations was Boschendal.

Boschendal, which means wood and dale, is a beautiful estate with an 1812 manor house done in the Cape Dutch architectural style. The grounds have rolling lawns and rows of mature oak trees providing a shady setting for our tasting.

Foremost in our mind were the Méthode Cap Classique wines. These sparkling wines have a world-wide reputation, and Boschendal is a pioneer in South African bubbly. When we moved to the still wine, we were in for a surprise.

Shiraz And A Legacy

The Boschendal estate dates back to 1685 when fruit farming began there. Beginning in 1896, ownership of Boschendal was, for a short time, in the hands of Cecil John Rhodes. Rhodes is considered either a hero or a villain by most. He was an advocate of British colonialism and was the founder of Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zaire). He was owner of DeBeers, the diamond mining enterprise and was an important statesman in the Cape Colony, which included the land that encompasses South Africa.

For what reason, you may ask, do I provide this short history lesson? One of the best bottles of wine we tasted at Boschendal was the Cecil John Reserve Shiraz. This reserve line of wine honors Rhodes and so while we sipped, we wondered if we were somehow endorsing a less than progressive view of South Africa. At the end of our tasting, our love of the wine won out and we purchased a bottle of the reserve wine.

Are We Feeling The Winery Effect?

The winery effect is when you are sipping a bottle at a lovely winery overlooking a scenic lake or rolling vineyards. You are convinced the wine is “making you more awesome” and you by a bottle or three. When you arrive home and uncork the bottle, you wonder “what were we thinking? This wine is terrible.”

That thought ran through my mind as we unwrapped the tissue and uncorked the Cecil John Reserve Shiraz. With the first sip, I was relieved.

I consider South African wine to be at the intersection of Old World and New World winemaking. The flavors can be bold and rich but without the heavy-handed manipulation of winemakers. There is room for nuance – and the pricing is unbelievable for the quality.

Cecil John Delivers

Shiraz is considered by many to be a sweeter version of Syrah popular in Australia. That’s mostly untrue and certainly untrue in the case of the Cecil John Reserve. This Shiraz is an elegant glass with savory, earthy flavors. The tannins are smooth, despite 24 months of aging in French Oak. The wine isn’t fined, a clarifying process, and is only partially filtered. In the glass it is a medium cranberry in color.

This is a delicious, supremely enjoyable glass. Boschendal wines are highly recommended and their reserve line will not disappoint. Boschendal’s Cecil John Reserve Shiraz has the integrity and sustainability certification of the Wine and Spirt Board of South Africa.

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