General, Opinion, Rants, and Stories

Shiraz Shiraz Medals blah blah blah

Yesterday the results of Wine Magazine’s Shiraz Challenge were announced. Jeanri-Tine, one of the magazine’s writers, tweeted that the website would reveal the winners at 15:00. There was also a lunch at Catarina’s at Steenberg (presumably to give all the writers energy for all the comment that inevitably spews forth after) where the winners were also to be announced.

It amused me no end then when I received a copy of the magazine at around 12:00am. I happily tweeted the winners, beating both the website and the celebratory lunch by a couple hours. For all their faults Wine Mag’s distribution is super efficient.


So the Saronsberg Provenance 2007 Shiraz won the challenge. I can’t comment on it as I have not tasted it. When I do, I will.

The value part of the competition was won by the Obikwa Shiraz, a steal at R24 bucks from Distell. I hope this has improved from their 2008 which I hated, but I remember Wine Mag quite liking.

What was even more fun than spoiling the surprise for everyone was reading the flurry of posts that always materialise after these sorts of announcements.
I read three last night before turning in. One from Mr. Pendock, one from Mr. Eedes, and one from Mr. James.

Neil Pendock focused on how the price and scores did not measure up asking whether SA Shiraz is over priced. Christian Eedes simply listed the results, and Tim James took a stab at the results suggesting you could “construct a more exciting Top Ten list from wines at the bottom end of the results.” Ouch. But the bitchyness really comes out at the end:

“It is, of course, entirely possible to have an excellent editor of a magazine who’s not very adept at English prose and doesn’t know much about wine – but surely such an editor should know when to employ a ruthless and knowledgeable copy-editor?’”

As much fun as this is to read, I would have preferred if he had the balls to claim it for himself rather than the somewhat feeble, “that’s the sort of remark the Widow would have made.”

As I type there is a to-and-fro between Mr. Eedes and Mr. James. With Mr. Edes posting a little comment in defence of competitions whilst taking out his wooden spoon and finishing with “Let Mr James enjoy his bottle of Chave Hermitage tonight which bears very little relation to what the rest of us drink on a regular basis.” I thought this a little unfair as it implies that Mr. Eedes is more in touch with the common folk, *unsheathes his own wooden spoon* drinking lots of Obikwa, Diemersfontein, and Two Oceans. Surely not.

James responds in the comments section saying that “Chave Hermitage seems to me nowadays one of the more overrated and overpriced wines.” I am sure he is more experienced than me on this, but I had a 1999 at Capelands Estate which was extraordinarily good. It changed how I thought about Syrah, wine and life. It was that good. I can still recall that black olive earthy seaside aroma and taste; I swear I have just drooled on the keyboard. So Mr James if you do get to drink that sort of wine regularly, I salute you.

Competitions are a bore, and the ensuing comments even more so. Please remember wine is not just about bitching about medals and personalities (although it feels that way sometimes). It is about finding and drinking wines that excite and titillate you. Wines that make you think, wines that are continually making you reconsider what good wine should taste like. Wine is also about finding bargain quaffers, those that offer interest at under R50, so at every sip you feel like you have won. There are better and worse wines, that is inarguable, but winning a medal does not guarantee it is the best, nor does scoring low mean it is crap. And that, my friends, is a relief.


5 thoughts on “Shiraz Shiraz Medals blah blah blah”

  1. It was the Saronsberg Provenance Shiraz 2007 [not the Saronsberg] which won the Challenge and a great wine it is too from an excellent winemaker. Problem is so few get to drink the expensive boutique stuff so it is great that the S’berg Provenance won the prize it is their more accessible – and cheaper – expression of Shiraz. And YAY YAY YAY for Obikwa – real stunner for its price.

    Those in the upper echelons and rarified atmosphere of wine judging and drinking dont venture into areas the real “people” in the real world with real wine budgets do.

    Fortunately we dont have to listen to them!

    Pendock has been voted the most valued palate, and some of the new young bloggers are telling it like it is, which is wonderful.


    1. Eek. Thanks Michael. Sorry Saronsberg. Corrected.

      I agree. I do think, however, that we make these massive divisions between people who get the chance (by scrimping and saving, selling a kidney, sometimes freebies, or simply rich) of tasting world class, special wines; and those who couldn’t really give a shit about top Bordeaux or, in this case, Hermitage and simply want solid value for money, under R50 bottles. As long as both find joy in drinking wine who cares.

      I will be honest I didn’t like the 08 Obikwa Shiraz and found the Wine Mag rating too high. But that is just me. If I don’t like it I don’t have to buy it. I look forward to tasting both of the winning wines, and maybe this competition will have helped me find a delicious new wine. Or maybe not. That’s the fun part.

  2. Another great post Harry. Let stars and awards be a rough guide, but for heavens sake like what YOU like! A lot of people in the wine industry tell others to mind their tongues, but one should really just mind what your own tongue says!

  3. Thanks for being the voice of reason once again. The only personality we should be interested in is the one in the bottle in front of us at any given time.

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