There can be no doubting the pedigree of the Syrah fruit grown at the Welbedacht Estate in Wellington. Some of the best grapes have been siphoned off quietly for other “premium” WO Western Cape Syrah for years. The large Welbedacht Estate (pronounced “well-be-duct”) is situated in one of the Cape’s most picturesque landscapes near Wellington, a warm climate region which seems ideally suited to the cultivation and production of world class Rhone varieties like Syrah.
Welbedacht is also home to the Burger family, surely one of the country’s most recognised sporting names. Schalk Senior was a formidable Springbok rugby player back in his day (and his handshake still is), and son Schalk Junior has followed in his father’s size 14 footsteps representing South Africa multiple times as a Springbok and who is now playing out the twilight of his career at Saracens in the UK. Second son, Tiaan, hung up his provincial rugby boots a few years ago and now heads up the cellar’s marketing operations.
In 1995, Schalk bought his first farm, Af-en-Toe, and started farming with 40 hectares of Cinsaut and Chenin Blanc. This was followed by the purchase of Welbedacht in 1997. Dating back to 1830s, it was a bit run down, but the water and the established old trees may have led to the decision to buy it. Welbedacht means “well thought out” in Dutch, and this is precisely how the Burger family approached the extensive restoration of this gracious property to its previous glory.
Schalk Burger & Sons Welbedacht Wine Estate Bohemian Syrah 2015, WO Wellington, 14.5 Abv.
The 2015 Syrah is probably one of the best I have tried from the Estate. There is a seductively rich intense nose of blueberry crumble, ripe black berries, mulberries and an alluring lift of vanilla pod mixed with violets, cherry blossom and sweet oak spice. Despite the 14.5 Abv, this lush rich wine is light on its feet, vibrant and thoroughly vital, with lovely clean linear acids and powdery tannins that punctuate the palate texture perfectly. The nose continues to open up in the glass revealing subtle bruleed coffee bean notes, fynbos, savoury cured meats, sweet black peppercorns, and a ripe black cherry kirsch intensity on the finish. The wine is drinking so beautifully now it would be a shame to bury it away in the cellar. Opulent, expressively dark fruited, this delicious purity should be enjoyed now and over as many stages of development as possible. Drink now to 2028+.
(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)