Kleine Zalze’s Syrah evolution secures 95pts in Prescient Shiraz Report

Wednesday, 5 June, 2024
Kleine Zalze
Syrah, replacing the former labelling as Shiraz, Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Syrah 2021 secured a top 10 spot in the 2024 Prescient Shiraz Report.

The wine scored a commendable 95pts – the second highest in this year’s Shiraz Report, presented by Winemag.co.za, and according to Kleine Zalze winemaker RJ Botha the Vineyard Selection Syrah 2021 represents a marked shift in Kleine Zalze Wines' offering made from this Rhône variety.

“The 2021 vintage marks a stylistic shift from what was previously labelled Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Shiraz,” says Botha. “The reason for this is that we at Kleine Zalze believe in winemaking being an evolutionary process where we are constantly using opportunities presented by the vineyards and experience in the cellar to adapt our stylistic approach in order to make better wine.”

The move to a Syrah from Shiraz in the Vineyard Selection offering is the culmination of years of experimentation and benchmarking in the winery, specifically aimed at modernising the Kleine Zalze Syrah offering.

“This meant incorporating techniques such as whole-bunch fermentation, the re-addition of mature stems into the fermentation tank and changing our oak regime to feature lighter toasting and less time in barrel,” says Botha.

Grapes for the Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Syrah 2021 were sourced from Kleine Zalze’s Stellenbosch property, as well as from selected sites in the Stellenbosch appellation.

Botha say’s most of the vineyards are grown on shale-rich soils, exceptionally well- suited to producing quality Syrah of perfumed elegance and notable refinement. “These elements were enhanced by the 2021 vintage which, due to the cold 2020 winter, led to a delayed growing season with harvest commencing two weeks later than per the average,” he says. “The longer hang-time made for berries of intense fruit-concentration, together with vigour and freshness with pin-point accuracy in the sugar to acid balance.”

All the vineyard blocks were harvested and vinified separately. During fermentation the juice was subjected to frequent pumped-overs for optimum colour and flavour extraction. After fermentation, only the free-run wine was transferred to barrel for malolactic fermentation. The wine was matured for 18 months in a combination of first (30%), second (30%) and third fill (40%) 300L French oak barrels before the various components were blended and prepared for bottling.

Botha says the Vineyard Selection Syrah 2021 exudes classic expression of the cultivar, with the tweaking in style bringing freshness and elegance to the fore. “The wine is full-bodied, but the focus on linearity and freshness expands the complexity of the variety, bringing further nuances to the fore in a wine of great purity with a multi-layered flavour profile and statuesque presence.”