De Morgenzon 2011 DMZ Syrah: Dark and Earthy from Stellenbosch

South Africa is one region I’ve had so little of, a real shame as good friends of ours are right smitten with the region. They’ve both traveled there and have fallen in love with the country and its wines. I make a point of providing a South African wine whenever we’re sharing a meal together. This one is for you M & K and I promise to have more in the future!

South Africa, as the name implies, is on the very southern tip of the continent and the only major wine producing region in Africa. With three centuries of grape growing history they have a pretty good handle on viticulture and yet are still experimenting with new varieties and techniques. Well known for the signature grapes Pinotage and Chenin Blanc there has been a resurgence of noble grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and today’s grape, Syrah (Shiraz).

Original Source: The Wines of South Africa’s Stellenbosch District

De Morgenzon means “the morning sun” and the estate is rightly named so because, situated near the top of the valley above the town of Stellenbosch, it gets the first rays of light in the morning. The estate underwent extensive climate and soil investigation after being purchased by Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum in 2003. The result was individual blocks of terroir (the natural environment in which a wine is produced including soil, topography, and climate) were discovered and the couple when into a replanting scheme to match the grapes with the right area. They even started playing Baroque music to their vines believing that the sound energy has a positive effect on growth.

Having brought the winery up to modern standards I expect to see really great things out of this winery in the coming years. Unfortunately the availability of their wines is scarce in Alberta. Might have to do something about that… but the meantime I shall enjoy what is here.

Look: A dark purple red-ish colour in the glass, very dense right to the rim with thick narrow legs. No surprise here as Syrah can produce some of the darkest wines if chosen so by the vintner.

Smell: This Syrah is primarily fruit forward with aromas of ripe, sweet dark plums, blackberry, and cherry but also has an underlying spiciness to it, a bit smoky with traces of coffee, cocoa, and a floral quality. It would seem that the winery is leaning towards a balanced New World style.

Taste: Full bodied with finely grained aggressive tannins this one packs a bit of a punch. With some time open it softens up a bit to become quite drinkable with dark fruit and earthy flavours, bit of charred wood, and coffee. The finish is smooth and drawn out with dried fruits, baking spices of clove and cinnamon, and quite a bit of sweet tobacco rounding it out.

Conclusion: All around this is a very decent wine with good aromas and flavours. Dark and earthy while maintaining enough fruitiness that most drinkers would enjoy this. At the table it was superb with homemade grilled burgers. It just lacks something to make me think “wow” to make me want to drink it without food. Does this make it bad? By no means, but I think this wine really shines with grilled food to match its dark and earthy quality. Above average and a good table wine I give it a 8.0+/10. De Morgenzon has a “reserve” tier which is a bump up in price but I’m sure would deliver the “wow” factor, but since it is not available in Alberta I’ll have to stick to this.

  • Syrah
  • Western Cape, South Africa
  • 2011 – 14.5% ABV
  • De Morgenzon DMZ
  • Screw Cap

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