Michael Fridjhon, one of the most respected and influential players in the South African wine industry, was part of the panel at the recent Shiraz Experience held at La Motte. This what Michael had to say about the event in his Business Daywine column:
“La Motte’s Hein Koegelenberg recently hosted a Shiraz Experience attended by most of the industry’s key producers. International keynote speakers included UK Master of Wine Lynne Sherriff and Australian winemaking great Geoff Merrill. La Motte’s reputation as one of the Cape’s best and most consistent Shiraz cellars made it the logical venue for the event – though the visitors’ centre with its new restaurant and the Pierneef Museum cemented the claim.
“Part of the symposium involved a blind tasting of several of the world’s top Shirazes, together with three South African candidates, an Antinori wine from Italy; and one of the most highly rated of the new generation Californians.
“The French and the Australians did not have it all their own way, though Merrill’s Henley emerged in first place, ahead of Guigal’s La Mouline, Chapoutier’s L’Ermite, Hill of Grace and Grange. None of the South African candidates was out of class: Constantia’s Eagles’ Nest finished in second place, La Motte midway through the rankings and Boekenhoutskloof ahead of Jaboulet’s La Chapelle.
“Cynics will no doubt point out (not incorrectly) that it costs a lot of money to make a good wine even fractionally better, so what does this exercise prove? The answer – even after you’ve discounted the averaging effect of group scores – is that hype is hardly ever worth the price. The most expensive wines are not markedly better than the more reasonably priced once you are in a quality wine bracket. More importantly, the Cape is now making wines which (in their youth, at any rate) comfortably rival the long-established big names . You don’t feel like forking out R2000 for a cult wine from the Rhone or Barossa? For R200, local is just as lekker.”