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hand harvesting in Stellenbosch, De Trafford Merlot
De Trafford Merlot Tasting hosted at Southern Guild Gallery
Merlot Fermentation graphs

Syrah 393Vertical Tasting Notes

These notes attempt to give some guidance to when best to drink our wines. The wines tasted were from our own library collection kept in an underground cellar. The conditions are good, but not ideal with ambient temperature going up to 18°C in the middle of the summer and down to 12°C in winter. This probably mirrors the average collector, but those with differing conditions should adjust accordingly.

Please note we started to get considerably better quality and longer corks since the 1996 vintage.  Many of the 1992 to 1995 vintages unfortunately vary a lot depending on the condition of the corks.

Please note that these notes should supersede the predictions of the fact sheets, which are prepared shortly after bottling. We will attempt to update these tasting notes every 2 years. We would welcome any feedback.

*Renamed Syrah 393 in the 2009 vintage, previously labelled Shiraz.

Tasting date: August 2015

1998    Lovely brick red rim and medium deep red centre. Showing a little age. Quite developed nose. Leather, orange rind, plum and fig. Still very attractive in a mature way. Evolves in the glass beautifully. Soft, mature, velvety palate. Starting to lose fruit and a bit past it’s best. Drink soon, while it’s still a delicious mature Syrah from 3 year old vines.

1999    (Produced for the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction) Deeper and more youthful colour than 1998. Complex, nicely developed nose. More gamey than 1998. Plum, fig, spice, leather and notes of antique furniture. Ripe plum, fig and blueberry fruit on palate, enveloped in spice and antique furniture notes. Nice dusty, dry finish. At peak of maturity. Drink now or over 2 to 3 years.

2000   Deep red colour with slightly brick red edges. Very ripe blueberry, plum and fig nose with cinnamon, dry coriander notes. Gains complexity in the glass. Big, rich and ripe palate. A little confected, but still quite youthful for a 16 year old wine. Drink now, but should still keep for 3 or 4 years.

2001   Medium deep true red colour with just a hint of age. Creamy, ripe red berry fruit on the nose. Quite pure and fresh, if lacking a bit in complexity. Inky concentration. Nice, soft palate, but with some (acid) spine. Usually one of my favourite vintages, but not that complex on this occasion. Dusty, dry, creamy texture carries to quite a long dry finish. At its peak, but with much life ahead – 5 or 6 years.

2002   Medium deep red colour. Some sediment, otherwise quite youthful. Attractive plum, fig, leather, cloves and Christmas pudding nose. Rich lush palate. Soft, developed palate with complex flavours and lots of fruit. Drink now or over the next 5 years. (Surprisingly good for such a weak vintage).

2003   Medium deep, true red colour. Quite youthful. A hint of Eucalypt on the nose. (Rather atypical for De Trafford, but also evident in the 2003 Cabernet). Herbs (fynbos), blueberry and green fig and a little less spicy than most vintages. Lovely balanced palate of fruit, soft tannins, creamy spice and herbs. Quite complex and a long, clean finish. Quite elegant, despite the high alcohol. At its peak, but still lively with many years ahead.

2004   Medium deep red colour with bright red edge with only a hint of brick red. Creamy, red berry fruit nose, with some white pepper, cinnamon and other spice nuances. Palate a little more austere than most vintages with soft, dry tannins and more restrained spicy red berry fruit. Dry, creamy finish. A little less rich and complex than most vintages, but refreshing to drink and evolves nicely in the glass. Drink now or over the next 4 or 5 years. (A 3L bottle we showed at the Big Bottle Festival 2 weeks later, was stunning).

2005   Medium deep red youthful colour. Lovely rich, red and blueberry fruit on nose with complex dusty furniture and spice notes.
Full, rich palate. Still youthful, though tannins evolved and velvety. Fruitcake mid palate with more Christmas pudding and slightly overripe fig preserve towards the finish. Long and complex. Drinking well now – should keep 5 or 6 years.

2006   Youthful deep red colour. Pure, fresh, plummy blueberry fruit on the nose with hints of leather, clove, pepper and fig.
Big tannin palate with evolved, soft, velvety mouthfeel. Moderately long finish and a little less complex than the other vintages. Just reaching its peak and should keep at least 5 or 6 years.

2007   Youthful, deep red colour. Fresh red berry fruit on the nose. (A bit like 2004, but more layered and complex). Some herbal aspects, nuts and spices. Quite perfumed, subtle and complex. Riper fruit on the palate than expected on entry. Mid-palate fine and complex like the nose. Finish quite long, drying a bit on the end. Drink now or over the next 5 or 6 years.

2008  (Platter Red Wine of the Year) Medium deep, youthful red colour. Spicy, herbal nose with strong green peppercorn notes. Really complex nose without a hint of over ripe fruit, despite the high alcohol. Lovely herbal, spicy palate with figgy fruit underneath. Lacking structure and length compared to the impressive nose. Drink now or over the next 3 or 4 years.

2009   Medium deep youthful red colour. Dark blueberry and blackberry fruit and smoky spice nose with some fig and dark chocolate.
Nice complex palate. Fruit unfolds through spice and smoky layers to long finish and back to smoky spice finish, with fine, dry tannins. Just starting to drink well, but should develop for 2 or 3 years and last at least 5 or 6 years after that.

2010   Medium deep youthful red colour. Dense red berry and blueberry fruit on nose with a little cinnamon and white pepper spice. Youthful and fresh, but complex already. Rich, ripe fruit palate with nicely complimenting cinnamon spice. Lovely mid palate to finish. Tannins melt to give way to lots of red berry, blueberry and spice flavours. Nice structure and evolving well. A big wine, but quite elegant, despite the high alcohol. Drink now or over the next 6 or 7 years.

2011   (96 points – Wine Spectator, the highest rating ever awarded to a SA red) Lovely deep red colour. Super dense, ripe fruit nose. (Bit like 2000). Complex spicy overlay with balsamic reduction, black figs and olive notes. Super concentrated, thick palate. Loads of intense, complex ripe fruit. Blockbuster in style. Needs 2 or 3 years and should last a very long time.

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