If you try different wines, you are bound to figure out which wine you like! Just about every blog post I have written here starts with that very sentence. I hope I am not being misunderstood to mean, with that sentence, that there is only one wine for you! In fact, it would be surprising to me if you like wine, and you could tell me with confidence what your favourite wine is . The Syrah, or Shiraz, is one of my favourite wine grapes. It would be a tad bit loose and irresponsible for me to say the grape is my favourite though. So if a grape is hard to choose from, how on earth can I be expected to choose one wine as my favourite? These were the thoughts I was sharing with Chomba as I was opening this bottle of the Amistad Syrah 2012 vintage, a wine by Black Elephant Vintners (Google bevintners).
I bought this bottle of wine a couple of years ago (in the true sense of the word couple), at the BEVintners farm, during the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival. Franschhoek, often misspelled with a missing ‘h’ is a valley that is home to serious culinary experiences and wines of the region in South Africa. Black Elephant Vintners have a charming story, to be expected of any wine farm, but this one I hold near and dear to my heart given I know Raymond Ndlovu, one of the partners in the venture, personally. Further more, when I went to the estate during the festival, they were the only wine farm that had all their wines on display and available for tasting. Incidentally, that is the farm I spent the most money on given I got to taste what I did not know (which I turned out to like). That’s a note to the wine farms that come to festivals and bring their cheap and cheerful wines, it does not attract new customers. Dawn Kennedy, in her article in the Cape Times, seems to also have been charmed by Black Elephant Vintners that year at Fraschhoek Uncorked, for different reasons from me!
Wine With Friends Opening Night, for whatever I taste with Chomba, is quite the big deal. I know I have to share the wine experience with you, so it’s not as simple as opening, pouring and drinking. Given past experiences, I did not take a chance this time, and poured the wine straight into a decanter. I allowed the wine to rest for thirty minutes, as we had enough to keep us busy, including starting the fire. That I called my blog Wine With Friends, and was tasting this wine tonight, did feel somewhat ‘meant to be’ in my hopeless romantic mind. For the first time, I noticed the words written on the label of the Amistad Syrah bottle. Amistad is a Spanish noun meaning “friendship”. Amistad in this case, is not to be confused with Schooner La Amistad, the slave ship. As I write now, looking at the Black Elephant Vintners website, I feel more chuffed to have immersed myself in one of their fine productions, and shared here with you. I owe myself a revisit, under quieter circumstances, and with Ryan’s Kitchen added to the flavour.
Let’s get back to the night in question, and me tasting the Amistad Syrah 2012 wine in the comfort of my home. Having allowed the wine to breathe, I poured a taster for Chomba and I to sip and make our tasting notes before dinner. “A dark cherry red” is how Chomba described the colour, as we marvelled at the contents in our glasses with our eyes. I was still trying to come up with a description for the beautiful burgundy red colour of the wine, when I could hear her already exclaiming sounds of satisfaction, from tasting. I guess for her, the principles of sniffing after seeing, went straight out into the cold.
I had been fighting off what felt like flu, and so when I put the glass to my nose, I had no expectations of picking up anything. I pointed out to Chomba that she had not even given me her sense of what she sniffed. She interrupted her pleasures of taste and texture in her mouth to pay attention to what she picked up on her nose. She thought she picked up ‘hints of smoke’. I had to laugh, and jokingly said to her that while I couldn’t smell anything, she was probably smelling smoke, only it was the smoke from the fireplace. If you don’t speak sarcasm in the Hermanus household, you will struggle, so Chomba simply ignored me and went back to her wine glass and personal wine experience.
It was a cold winter’s night, as one would expect on the last day of June in South Africa. I was smiling from ear to ear after my first sip of the wine. I didn’t have trouble picking up on the Black Pepper flavour in my mouth. Chomba mentioned picking up a taste of Turkish Delight. That’s one of the things I enjoy about wine tasting with her, she has a much more complex knowledge of tastes and flavours and the vocabulary to go with what she picks up. You can’t disagree with what you don’t know right? The wine itself was such a smooth drink. The tannins were fine and non-attention seeking. The structure of the wine was superbly balanced, velvety in the mouth, subtle in making its presence felt and a had good full body.
I look forward to opening my other bottles from #BEV although I think this was the last of the Syrah. The bevintners website does have the Syrah for sale but I see it is now the 2014 vintage, which was bottled in May 2017. The Amistad Syrah 2012 was a HIT and is definitely in the category of one of my favourite wines. It would be a lie for me to say it was my favourite wine. Truth is, I don’t have a favourite wine… I have wines I like, wines I love and wines I drink once and never blog about. That I will be going back for more, and have blogged about the wine, should tell you that you should give this wine estate a shot!