I recently did a questions and answers session with Neil Pendock about Shiraz, our flagship at varietal at La Motte. Below are the questions and answers that appeared on Neil’s wine page in today’s Sunday Times.
Q: Why did you choose Shiraz as the flagship varietal at La Motte?
A: We believe the South African terroir is well suited for the Shiraz varietal. In fact the different terroirs that we have with warm and cold oceans as well as the altitude allows for different styles. This allows us to produce a style of Shiraz that is distinct and can stand out on the world stage. At La Motte we base our Shiraz on the classic French styles but with more balanced fruit components. This is a wine that can mature and improve with age and is also good with food.
Q: Another famous Franschhoek Shiraz is made by Marc Kent at Boekenhoutskloof, yet he calls it Syrah. Why the confusion?
A: It is a bit like driving on the left or right side of the road. In Europe, the United States and some South American countries it is known as Syrah. In Australia and South Africa it is more commonly called Shiraz. The original name is Syrah with Australia pushing the Shiraz version which has become internationally known. I don’t think the spelling really matters as long as the wine is good.
Q: La Motte makes a Shiraz, plus Shiraz/Grenache and Shiraz/Viognier blends. Are you hedging your bets?
A: No, we want all our Shiraz and Shiraz blends to be brilliant and world class. Having settled on Shiraz as the flagship varietal we wanted to explore styles and options. We did not want a one dimensional flagship. Each of the wines – the Shiraz, the Shiraz Viognier and the Shiraz Grenache – all offer a different experience. The Shiraz has fruit components of white pepper, black and red fruit; the Shiraz Viognier is our softer blend where we use the peach flavours of the Viognier in a combination with the spiciness of the Shiraz; and the Shiraz Grenache has full red flavours and a chalky dry finish.
Q: Does your ultimate Shiraz come from France, Australia or Franschhoek?
A: There are very good Shiraz wines from all over the world with France still setting the bar in quality and style. But we are working hard to grow and produce the ultimate Shiraz. I believe if you are going to pour passion, time and resources into a particular varietal then you must do it with the aim of producing the very best in the world.