One of the most luxurious 100% Shiraz produced in South Africa, the Black Lion is a finely crafted wine cultivated from specially selected vines that are nurtured by special ‘hand manicuring’ and individual attention to produce grapes for a truly modern premium international wine, positioned to stand proudly amongst its global peers. A mere 1000 – 1300 individually numbered bottles are produced annually with the maiden vintage being the 2012, when only 608 bottles were produced.
I remember visiting the De Toren Stellenbosch winery in the Polkadraai Hills when the maiden Book XVII Bordeaux blend 2010 had just been released and the maiden 2012 Black Lion Shiraz was still ageing in barrel, made up of components of pure Shiraz grown on three different vineyard sites including the Swartland and the Helderberg, but importantly, made using the same extreme precision viticulture as the Book XVII Series, albeit with less barrel rotation and slightly different barrel cooperage. The 2020 Black Lion edition is made from fruit from one site in the Swartland and one site in Stellenbosch.
With the new 2020 release hitting the market, it was time to put this extraordinary Shiraz through its paces. Using 200% new oak ageing, there is always going to be a certain overt opulence to the wine, a hedonistic indulgence, but with stylistic perfection always front and foremost in the cellar master Charles Williams’ mind, the end product is always going to be eye-catching. More Napa Valley than Rhone Valley undoubted, but certainly a unique expression of premium luxury South African Shiraz.
De Toren Private Cellar Black Lion Shiraz 2020, WO Coastal Region, 15.5% Abv.
Three things strike you when you nose and taste this premium wine for the first time… firstly that it’s incredibly youthful as you’d expect from a 2020 vintage, secondly, the integration of the new oak on such a young wine is simply exceptional, and lastly, the all round creamy, dense intensity, harmony and balance of fruit and structure points to something very serious in the bottle. Without any obfuscation of oak, the aromatics are laid out regally like crown jewels on display, showing a deliciously rich black berry, blue berry and mulberry complexity, with hints of grilled herbs, sweet roasted peppercorns, sweet tobacco leaf and seductive notes of cured bresaola. Texturally, this wine is faultless, revealing a suave, opulent, richly layered palate that leaves little to the imagination. Sleek, fine grained, broad in the mouth, the palate shows black cherry and liquorice, black currant and black stewed plums with sweet savoury herbs, vanilla pod spice and a seductively long finish. Perhaps a little modern in style for hemp shirt wearing Syrah traditionalists, but for everyone else, this iconic red is the product of modern precision viticulture at its very best. A truly extraordinary wine. Drink from 2024 to 2038+. (Only 1,215 bottles produced)
(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
The De Toren wines are imported into the UK by The Wine Treasury and retails for circa £250 per bottle.