The historic La Motte estate on the outskirts of Franschhoek has big plans for the future – and nearly all of them involve Shiraz. Seven years ago, the decision was taken to seriously invest in the future of this varietal and work began on establishing vineyards in a variety of different sites including Elgin and Botrivier. The aim was to develop a distinctly South African style of wine whilst still retaining the varietal’s roots in the Rhône Valley.
CEO Hein Koegelenberg is passionate about Shiraz and for several years now he has been joined in his enthusiasm for this variety by La Motte cellarmaster, Edmund Terblanche. He and Edmund, who is currently Chairman of the Shiraz Society of South Africa, spend a week or so in the Rhône Valley every other year, chatting with the vignerons, asking questions and learning all they can in the home of Shiraz. After every visit, they bring between 10 and 30 cases back to South Africa to form the basis of comparative tastings and benchmarking over the following year.
And all these efforts are beginning to pay off for La Motte. Recent successes in the Shiraz Challenge, great ratings from the Platter Wine Guide, wonderful new blends involving Grenache and Viognier – all these are confirming Hein and Edmund’s belief that Shiraz really is the most exciting and promising grape grown in South Africa today.
But the wine world never stands still and in his quest to discover where South African Shiraz should go next, Hein came up with the ultimate forum for the variety – the La Motte ‘Shiraz Experience’. Started in 2007, this is an annual celebration of the variety and is attended by representatives of the wine industry, such as wholesalers, retailers, wine producers, as well as the national and international media.
The next presentation will be held on Friday 27 August 2010, under the theme “Global Trends of Shiraz Styles”. Throughout the day, top Shiraz wines from the Rhône Valley, California, Australia and South Africa will be tasted and discussed, including many vintage wines from La Motte’s own vinoteque which will be served over lunch.
One of the international speakers this year will be the highly respected Australian-born Geoff Merrill, worthy recipient of 23 trophies for his own-brand wines. Along with UK-based MW, Lynne Sherriff, and South African wine fundis Michael Fridjohn and Carrie Adams, the panel will chair discussions and share information, insights and global trends in respect of Shiraz with attendees.
With all this international experience, expertise and input, Hein believes that South Africa is more than capable of making a truly great wine from Shiraz. “Right now, our vines are still very young but every year they are improving. I strongly believe that there is a big change coming in the world of Shiraz, and that change is going to come from South Africa.” Hein and Edmund’s enthusiasm and initiatives such as the ‘Shiraz Experience’ are putting La Motte right at the forefront of that change and, by the looks of things, the best is yet to come!