The vintage, the winemaking and eventually consumer preference, to a large degree determine the success of a wine. But there are other important factors as well - the story behind the wine, the art of the packaging and the marketing skill.
Easy to list, but these determining factors can be quite challenging. Vintage conditions are for the best part out of our control and winemaking can be skilled and artistic, but personal preference and taste plays a role. We can try to define consumer preference by looking at trends and fashions, but it really differs from one person to the next. And when it comes to the softer issues of marketing, storytelling and design, it becomes even harder to measure or judge what it is that will make a product successful. And then we are not even touching on what success really implies. Do we measure a wine's success in the volumes sold, the profitability, the awards and quality recognition it receives or perhaps even press coverage and consumer awareness?
With all these philosophical questions in mind, for the La Motte Winemaking team, there is some measure of success in consistency. Yes, vintage differences are what makes wine exciting and winemakers adapting to what nature offers is what differentiate wine from many other drinks, but it is consistency when it comes to style and quality expectations that ensure consumer confidence – something that is also true of the recently released 2016 Pierneef Syrah Viognier.
An exceptional expression of its Cape South Coast origin, the 95% Syrah in the 2016 Pierneef Syrah Viognier blend contribute character and elegance, while the 5% Viognier from the Franschhoek Valley brings complexity and fragrance. The Syrah had low yields due to the cool conditions in Elim and dry, windy conditions in Walker Bay. Rain in Elim and risk of decay caused an earlier harvest and the result is wines with a low alcohol content and a positive, low pH. Grapes from the various Syrah vineyards were harvested at different times, but always together with some Viognier. The Franschhoek Viognier was chosen because of its late ripening and was harvested together with the Syrah to co-ferment.
The grapes were hand-sorted and fermented without stems. After about 25 days’ maceration, the wine went into 300-litre French barrels, of which 50% were new. The wine was matured for 14 months after which it was blended and then barrel matured for another 4 months before bottling.
The wine is complex without being too concentrated. Gentle perfume from the Viognier complements the intricate mulberry, pepper and liquorice of the Syrah. The palate is silky and finishes with finesse and freshness.
The structure and spice of the Syrah and the floral nuances of the Viognier makes the wine a versatile partner on the dinner table, complementing beef, venison and charcuterie, aromatic curries, game birds such as quail and duck, as well as reduced fruit flavours.
The 2016 Pierneef Syrah Viognier is available online or at the cellar door for R260 per bottle.
The Pierneef artwork:
As part of the ultra-premium Pierneef range which is a tribute to South African artist Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886 – 1957), famous for his mastership in portraying the unadorned beauty of the South African landscape and its architecture, each new release in the range reflects six different linocut artworks – essentially six different labels for each six-bottle presentation of the Pierneef Collection.